NIXA, Mo. -

Home break-ins happen every 15 seconds.  Most of them could be prevented.

"Think like a burglar. Is your house a target?" said Nixa Police Officer Brent Forgey, an expert on home security.

Forgey used a specific home to show how people can better protect themselves.  The home is where Darlene Graham has lived for  two years.

"I've taken precautions to make sure that I've tried to keep things were they should be to prevent anyone from getting in," said Graham.

It only took a few seconds for Forgey to find ways to break-in.

"It's recommended this small tree or shrub be bellow the window.  If anything it creates a hiding spot," he said.

Don't overlook the crawl space.

"See all we have to do is turn that and we are inside. We have access," he said.

The backyard is where most crooks strike.

"Police come in through the front. He goes out the back. The prime attack area is in the back of your home," said Forgey.

The average criminal will only spend about 5 minutes total at your home.

Eliminate blind spots.  Make sure areas around doors are well lit with flood lights.  Homes near street lights rarely get hit.

Sometimes criminals pose as sales or delivery people so they can get a good look at your place.

Some get in through your garage using the emergency door opener.

"They've taken a hanger, clipped it around here did that and got in the house," said Forgey.

Once the burglars are in the home, they typically go to the kitchen.

"What do people have in their kitchen's today? Purse with all of her credit cards. Her whole financial history is there. It's recommended we keep them in non traditional places today," said Forgey.

The number one thing the bad guys take is electronics.  Put them away from windows if possible.

A third of all the break-ins happen because of unlocked doors.

A little investment, like smart keys can prevent heartache. Smart keys can be found at local hardware stores.

"You can change to a totally different key. Each one of these keys are grooved different," said Forgey.

He also recommends door handles with codes.

Police say if you have a dog your chances of a break-in are significantly lower. Criminals will hear their bark and typically move on.

Police say get to know your neighbors and their routine.  Start or join a neighborhood watch program.

A lot of police departments offer home inspections and classes on how you can better secure your place.