We Guarantee You Make at least 3 Of Them!
No one wants to be the victim of a home robbery, but every few seconds, someone in the United States has that unpleasant experience. Most people aren’t deliberately staked out, but instead a thief finds their home a conveniently-unguarded, easily-accessed target. A few bad habits and lazy behaviors by homeowners put the welcome sign out for thieves. Here are some of the most common ones along with some easy solutions to make your home more secure.
Leaving doors and windows unlocked
Add the stick if you need too…
This seems obvious, but about a third of burglaries happen when someone enters your home through an unlocked door or window. If you were going out of town, you’d make sure everything was closed up tightly, but it’s human nature to think, “I’m only going to be gone for a few minutes,” or “It’s the middle of the day, no problem.”
A typical robbery takes about 15 minutes, and the middle of the day is an ideal time for someone to try to get into your home – the kids are at school and adults are at work. Get in the habit of locking your doors and windows all the time, even when you are home. If having a key with you is an issue, or your kids lose theirs, invest in a keyless entry for at least one door. They’re not very expensive these days, and many have the additional benefit of your being able to open them remotely through an app if necessary. If you like to leave doors or windows open for fresh air, make sure to shut them when you leave the house, no matter how short the trip, and invest in some good locking screens.
Ladders left in the open encourage thieves
Leaving a ladder in your backyard and having easy access to second-story windows
Criminals can get tricky or disguise as window cleaners…
If you live in a two- (or more) story house, it’s easy to assume a burglar won’t make the effort to get into your upstairs windows. In fact, they’re frequently-overlooked entry points. These windows often don’t have alarm sensors and you may not worry about good locks on them. However, if there is a covered porch, a strong trellis, or even a drain pipe, someone could access those upper windows pretty easily. To make it even more convenient, some homeowners leave ladders outside, tucked behind sheds or garages.
One burglar, when interviewed about how he decided which homes to enter, said he did a little jig when he saw a ladder outside because no one ever locks their second-story windows. Lock up your ladders in sheds or garages, and make sure your second-story windows are just as secure as the first-story ones.
Make sure it closes all the way
Providing easy access through your garage door:
Don’t drive off until you’ve seen it shut all the way…
Another frequently-used entry point for thieves is the garage. A thief can easily open your closed unlocked garage door by using a bent hanger to pull on the emergency lever, but some homeowners make it even easier. You may not even realize you left your garage door open overnight, or you might use the old “I’ll only be gone for a few minutes” theory and leave it wide open while you run a quick errand.
Another bad habit is leaving your car door unlocked with your garage door opener visible on the visor. It only takes a moment for a thief to reach in, grab your garage door remote, and also grab your car registration from your glove compartment with your address right on it. This is particularly worrisome if you access your house through the garage and don’t always lock that door.
These rocks are pretty obvious to thieves searching for them, especially the big ones.
Hiding a key under a doormat, in a fake rock, or under a planter
We all remember this one…
There’s a reason this is a cliché – it’s because so many people do this! There is nowhere you can hide a key for your child or guest to use where a thief won’t also be able to find it, and those fake rocks are pretty obvious. No one wants to be locked out, of course, but these days with keyless entry you don’t need a physical key. If you have guests coming and you won’t be there, you can set them up with their own entry pin for your door lock so no keys are necessary; or even open the door for them yourself with an app.
Telling people you’re not home
Just cause you have social media doesn’t mean the whole world should know when your gone…
There are so many ways homeowners announce they are currently away that there could realistically be a separate warning list just for them. Anything sitting around your home that would be brought in if someone were in the house just screams “This house is unoccupied!” This includes packages or flyers sitting uncollected on your front porch, mail sitting in your mailbox for more than a day, and newspapers sitting in the driveway.
Pause mail and newspaper delivery, and have packages held at the delivery office if possible. Ask a trusted neighbor or friend to keep an eye on the house and remove any advertising flyers from the porch or windblown trash from your lawn. Few people think about their trashcan or recycling container sitting out on the street for more than a few hours as an incentive for thieves, but don’t put the trashcans out on Friday for pickup on Monday if you’ll be gone for the weekend!
It’s fun to brag; just do it carefully!
We’ve all heard of this by now, don’t literally advertise your absence with pictures of your family vacation on any social media sites. It’s great to share the fun with others, but it’s just too risky to snap photos of your family at Disneyland or the Grand Canyon and post them online in real time. If you absolutely must gush about your vacation, you can set up a private feed or better yet, wait until you get home and talk about “what we did last week at Yellowstone” rather than “what we are doing right now in Hawaii.”
Leaving one light on the whole time you’re gone, either for the evening or for the weekend, also announces to anyone watching the fact no one is actually in the house. A better idea is having several lights on timers or turning your lights on and off through an app. This way, there will be some variation when things come on and go off, and this looks more realistic.
A big TV box by the trash tells thieves there’s a new TV inside your home
Advertising your valuables, leaving them in plain sight
Danng, I’m rich…
Not too many people would leave cash or a diamond bracelet sitting on a table by an open window, but you can advertise in less obvious ways. Again, avoid posting pictures of your new gaming system or beautiful ruby anniversary ring on a public social media feed. Now with the era of Smart doorbells, we are seeing more funny things caught on camera when people take products off doorsteps.
Additionally, don’t put the large box from your 52-inch plasma TV on the curb with the trash for anyone driving by to notice. Although especially wise during the Holidays, this is good advice any time of year. Instead, take a load of several boxes to the dump yourself, or fold them up and put them into the trash can. Also get in the habit of putting electronics away when not in use if they are easily seen by anyone walking by from the street or in your backyard.
Old and outdated. If you move into a home, update the alarm system.
Not using a good alarm system
If it makes sounds, it works right?
Even if you live in a “safe” neighborhood, invest in a quality alarm system. These don’t have to be prohibitively expensive. Consider motion detectors, glass break sensors, night-vision cameras, and doorbell cameras along with door and window sensors. Put sensors on all possible access points such as basement and upstairs windows, and consider how just because your family never uses the patio door doesn’t mean a thief wouldn’t consider this door a great way to get in your home.
Also, experts advise against putting the alarm panel right by a door or window as a thief can look in and see you entering your code, or can see that the system is disarmed. These days, most systems can be disarmed remotely so there is no need to punch in a code immediately upon entering.
Just one example of hundreds of motion detecting lights/sockets/sensors on the market
Having no outside lights and planting thick bushes around your windows
Thieves love to be able to approach your house to investigate or enter without risk of being seen, so keeping the outside of your house dark at night or having thick shrubbery around your home is just providing them great hiding locations. Trim back those bushes and put some motion-activated lights around your property.
These days, this can be as easy as buying motion sensors for screwing into any light socket or putting some solar-powered lights up by your doors and around your home. Lights will also make it easier for your outside and doorbell cameras to get good pictures, and prospective thieves looking for their next target are well aware of that fact.
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William is a tech buff and former corporate security officer turned cybercrime analyst. Computers have few secrets left for him, but home security and alarm systems… Well, those have plenty of secrets for their users, which William is now uncovering and explaining. His articles on home security helped many people take the matter seriously, invest in highly performing systems, and avoid becoming victims of burglaries.