Mistakes. We all make them, right? Some mistakes—overcooking dinner, forgetting to set your alarm clock—aren’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. But home security mistakes are another story. Burglaries are more common than you think.
One burglary happens every 15 seconds in this country, and a shocking 30 percent of burglaries don’t require the use of force.
Which means there are home security mistakes that could make your home an easy target for burglars and intruders. The safety of your loved ones and the security of your belongings is at stake.
Read on to find out the home security mistakes you shouldn’t be making.
- The not-so hidden key
Burglars love when homeowners “hide” their keys under the doormat, or in a fake rock or lawn ornament. Experienced burglars know exactly where to look to find your hidden key. Don’t leave a spare key in what is actually an obvious place.
Consider a system that offers keyless entry, so you can give the nanny, cleaning person, or handyman access, without having a lot of spare keys floating around, or hidden by your door.
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- Ladder access
Take a look outside your home. Is there a ladder stored in plain sight? Is it in the backyard, leaning against the house? Is it in an unlocked shed? Or, has it been left outside, under the window you were fixing?
A ladder is a great tool for a burglar. Don’t leave ladders unsecured outside your home, lest you aid an intruder’s entrance to your home.
- Door and window locks
It seems obvious, but keeping doors and windows locked can go great lengths to keep your home secure. Remember the statistic, that 30 percent of burglaries happen without force, making unlocked doors and windows easy access for intruders.
Don’t just lock your doors and windows. Take safety a step further—make sure your door and window locks aren’t old and malfunctioning, or cheap or poorly made. Spend a few extra dollars on quality locks.
- Your garage
Most garages are attached to your home, meaning once inside your garage, an intruder can also access your house if it’s unlocked. Prevent this by locking both your garage and the door that connects your garage to your house.
The first line of defense is making sure your garage doors remain locked at all times, no matter what. This includes while you’re home. But don’t stop there. Keep the door from your garage to your inner sanctum locked too.
- When the dog barks… or doesn’t
You’ve got a dog, which means burglars aren’t coming near your house, right? Wrong. Don’t rest easy thinking having a dog means your home is protected. After all, Fido does like to nap a lot, and he does leave the house with you for walks or car rides.
Your dog also might not bark at someone familiar, like a handyman or repairman who could take advantage by coming back later after making friends with your furry creature.
- Fake security equipment
Sure, it might be cheap to go on the Internet and buy a fake surveillance camera or some home security signs. But burglars can spot fake security equipment from a mile away. And once they realize that your house isn’t secure, they’ll take it as an invitation to come on in.
- Hiding places
Burglars love nothing more than back or side yards with plenty of shadows and places to hide. Tall shrubbery along your house, or dark areas of your yard, provide the perfect cover for a burglar to work in darkness or shielded from view.
Use motion detector lights along the perimeter of your home and garage, and cut back any overgrown landscaping.
- Outdoor lighting
Outdoor lighting is the perfect solution to not giving burglars a place to hide in your yard or outside your house. Set up a few well-placed motion detector lights, on garages and porches, and along the sides or back of your house.
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Also make sure entrances to your home are well lit, and lit all night. Decorative lighting can play a role in safety by making walkways, paths, or your driveway well lit, leaving nowhere to hide.
- Don’t advertise
Tomorrow is trash and recycling day. What do you do with the packaging from your new flat screen television, smart phone, or other electronics or expensive purchase?
Placing boxes at your curb for anyone to see is an advertisement showcasing exactly what shiny new toys are inside your home. Instead, flatten, cut up, and throw packaging away in trash bags (not the see-through kind).
- Don’t display items in the window
Just as you like to go window-shopping, so do burglars. Don’t leave expensive jewelry, electronics, or other items near windows. Go outside and peek in your windows. What items do you see that someone might want to steal?
- Smart storage
Just as you don’t want to leave your valuables within view of your windows, don’t leave your security system next to a window or door. Doing so allows a burglar to look inside and see if your security system is armed and active.
Instead, keep your system in a cabinet, a room away from first-floor windows, or elsewhere out of view.
- Don’t forget maintenance
You already have a security system in place, so pat yourself on the back. But don’t rest on your laurels. You’ll need to make sure to routinely maintain your system and its components. Make sure batteries are fresh, locks are functioning, and light bulbs haven’t burnt out.
- Stop social media
Sure, you want to stay connected with friends and family. But know when to keep mum on social media sites, like when you’re going on vacation or will be away for a day or few. Brag about the beach when you get back—not before, which announces to the world that your home is empty.
- Leave more than a light on
When you are going away for a few days, don’t just turn out the lights and go. Put timers on various lights throughout your home—not just one light—and have them come on at different times of day. Give the idea that someone is there, even when nobody is.
- Stop the mail and newspaper
Nothing alerts a burglar like mail overflowing from the mailbox, or newspapers piled up in your driveway. Stop mail and newspaper delivery while you’re out of town, and enlist a neighbor to pick up any packages or other deliveries that may arrive while you’re gone.
By taking steps to avoid home security mistakes, you’re making your home safer for your family. Want to know more? Read five telltale signs a burglar is targeting your house.