Home security is a topic that has been discussed ad nauseam for years. We are all familiar with the basic tenets of home security. We all know enough to have mail and newspaper stopped while we are away. We know enough to put our lights on timers and install heavy-duty deadbolt locks on the doors.
This post takes a different tack. Instead of regurgitating all the same old talking points, it will focus on five home security mistakes that rarely get any attention. All five are things most of us have probably done once or twice in our lives. Unfortunately, the one time you make a mistake is the one time a burglar will be in your neighborhood.
1. Not Arming the Security System
Installing a home security system is something every property owner should consider. Home security systems are wonderful deterrents. However, they are useless when homeowners forget to arm them. Having an unarmed security system is like having a car without fuel.
A forgetful person has a couple of options. The first is to hang some sort of note on the door or wherever car keys are stored. Some people set reminders on their cell phones to check that their systems have been armed. Another option is to install a smart system with remote access. That way, you can still arm the system later if you forget to do it on your way out the door.
2. Leaving the Garage Door Open
A second mistake many people make without thinking about it is leaving the garage door open. This is never a good idea even if you are home. An open garage door is an invitation to curious burglars to take a peek inside. And because many of us use our garages as storage for toys, a curious burglar can learn a lot with just a quick glance.
Leaving the garage door open presents two specific risks. First and foremost, everything you store in your garage becomes fair game to thieves. They will help themselves to your bicycles, sporting goods, lawn equipment, and anything else they believe has value. That’s bad enough.
A second risk is giving burglars easy entry into the main portion of the home. Far too many of us leave the door between the garage and the house unlocked for the simple fact that the garage door, when down, prevents entry. But what if you leave the garage door up? Suddenly that unlocked door becomes a problem.
Vivint, a leading provider of home security and smart home technologies, recommends keeping the garage door closed at all times. They also recommend making sure the door between the garage and the house is kept locked. You do not want someone gaining access to the house after breaching a less secure garage door.
3. Leaving Doors Unlocked
Leaving the doors unlocked used to be okay back in the days of rotary dial telephones and black-and-white TVs. It is not a good idea in 2020. Unlocked doors are an open invitation to burglary. More importantly, doors should be locked even when people are home.
Although burglars prefer to hit houses that are empty, sometimes they mistakenly attempt to enter an occupied home. Other times they enter homes they know are occupied because the potential of a quick score is too tempting to pass up. Needless to say that your best defense in this regard are doors that are secured with a heavy-duty deadbolt.
Bear in mind that the main purpose of door locks is to impede entry. No lock is strong enough to keep out someone who is intent on getting in. No, the purpose for locking your doors is to make it as difficult as possible on anyone who tries to enter illegally. That is why experts recommend heavy-duty deadbolts.
The whole point here is that burglars are criminals of opportunity. They look for the fastest and easiest targets to breach. Leaving your doors unlocked makes your home a soft target; unlocked doors make your home an easy target. Do not make the mistake of leaving your doors unlocked at any time. Keep them locked whether you are home or away.
4. Posting TMI on Social Media
This next mistake is one that people still have trouble believing. When you post too much information on social media, you are telling potential criminals more about your life than they need to know. The fact is that burglars troll social media looking for targets.
According to the Prince William County (VA) police, Google Streetview is one of the most used online tools among burglars. They say that as many as 75% of all burglars use social media to find easy targets. Burglars can use social media to figure out where you live, whether or not you are home, and if you have anything in your home worth stealing.
Never use social media to check-in. Do not tell people you are away on vacation or share photos of that jewelry you got for Christmas.
5. Assuming You Are Safe
We will close this post with the mistake of assuming you are safe. Do not believe that bad things never happen in your neighborhood. Do not assume for a minute that you are immune to burglary and other home security risks because of your economic status, the neighborhood you live in, or the company you keep. You and your neighbors could fall victim to crime just as easily as anyone else. Your homes could be invaded and your cars broken in to.
Staying safe at home is a conscious decision followed by definitive action. Not only should you avoid the mistakes described in this post, you should also learn how to keep yourself and your family a safe as possible. A good first step is conducting a security assessment of your entire property. Consider following up with a consultation provided by a home security company you can trust. The combination of some key security strategies and a monitored security system could make your home significantly safer.