CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- With hundreds of home break-ins across the Queen City each year, what can we do to prevent them from happening to us?

WCNC spoke with a man who was once a hardened criminal who shares clues on ways you can protect your family.

The one time career criminal, Tommy Carson, who made a job of breaking into homes, says there are things you can do to make your home safer.

"I would say I broke into over 100 homes, 100 plus," he said.

Carson says he and his team "went in with a team of two to three people, one had a walkie-talkie."

And those signs in the front yard indicating you have a home alarm system can be like magnets.

"For somebody who is on my level that alarm sign was actually a helper. Because we know what the alarm companies do."

He says they knew there was a delay in the time when an alarm company would call police so they had a short window of time to work with.

So what are some ways you can keep your family safe?

Carson says lighting is key. The more lights around your home the better.

Carson says these are things to think about when you're trying to fortify your house and what burglars look for.

Cut back large trees and brush. Burglars like it when they can't be spotted from the street when committing the crime.

Another interesting bit of information may surprise some parents: many families may tell their kids never to answer the door when they are home alone.

Well, Carson says if someone is home, he would never try to break into that house because they would look for the path of least resistance.

So, if a child is home and comes to door and yells, "My mom or dad is in the shower," the suspect is likely to go to another home.

Statistics show home burglaries in Charlotte are a major problem. There were a whopping 440 reported burglaries in the Queen City-- but they're not evenly spread. There were 18 break-ins within 3500 feet of the Garinger High School campus, in east Charlotte. But, there was only one burglary inside I-277.

Mathews Police spokesperson, Tim Aycock, says another key thing to remember is stopping newspaper home delivery when out of town. Papers piling up in the driveway can be another sign the homeowner is not home. Also, consider motion sensors for lights the detractor.

Home break-ins is a crime police know is a problem and some departments are even dedicating officers to patrolling neighborhoods more in an effort to cut down on the crime.

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