You live in a safe town. The lawns are manicured, the streets are clean and the kids can ride their bikes freely. Maybe you’ve even got a streetlight keeping things cozy at night.
But even “safe towns” attract criminals, and for good reason – it’s where manicured lawns mean nice possessions, and kids riding bikes means, well, that there are bikes. And probably gaming systems and TVs, too.
Don’t let a peaceful neighborhood lull you into complacency. You don’t need to be paranoid and looking over your shoulder, but you do need to be careful of making some of the completely avoidable mistakes that open your home up to burglary and theft.
Here are some ways you could be making it way too easy on criminals – with some tips for correcting those mistakes so you can keep your home and family safe.
Leaving Car Doors Unlocked
Most newer cars come equipped with locking alarms but they won’t do you much good if you leave the doors unlocked – especially if you leave the keys inside. Just recently there was a series of car thefts right in nearby Holmdel, New Jersey, and the criminals didn’t have to work too hard.
The car owners made it very easy on them by leaving the doors unlocked and the keys inside in plain sight. No alarms, no shattered glass – just an empty driveway to greet you in the morning.
Crimes like this are too easy to prevent for them to keep happening. It goes without saying that you should take your keys and lock the doors whenever you step out of the car, even if you’re “just running back inside to grab your umbrella.”
But take it a step further for better protection, and remove any valuables from the car. That includes purses, laptops, even spare change packed into the center console. All of these are invitations to thieves.
Better yet, why not lock your car in the garage when it’s not in use? Couple that with a motion sensor that turns on the lights when someone gets too close and a few video cameras to keep an eye on things (backed by a good monitoring service!) and your vehicle will be as safe as the rest of your home.
Leaving Bikes Out On The Lawn
Last we noticed, it was sometime around 1978 when a kid zipped by on a rusty old bike with a torn banana seat. These days, even bikes are pretty high tech, with multiple gears and pretty shiny paint jobs.
If the neighborhood kids don’t get to them first, the criminals will. Leaving prized possessions outside overnight is like gift-wrapping them for thieves. Bikes, scooters, remote control cars, sporting equipment – not only does leaving these in plain sight make them easy targets, but it gives criminals an idea that what’s inside your home may be just as nice and shiny.
And don’t count on your back yard being any safer than the front. Put toys and outdoor equipment away when it’s not in use. A separate, locked shed, or a garage are both great options. And again, motion sensors, automatic lights and video cameras with monitoring will help protect your investment when you’re not watching.
As long as we’re talking about toys, kids and grownups alike have plenty of expensive gadgets, from smart phones and tablets, to laptops and handheld gaming systems. All of these are favorites of criminals, who can easily smash-and-grab, especially if you’ve conveniently left those gadgets in plain sight near a window.
Keep small but coveted items away from open or unattended windows, even during the day, and close blinds at night to deter prying eyes.
Failing To Set Your Alarm
Having a security alarm system is nice. Having one that’s armed is better! Too many people either forget, or get lazy, and don’t bother to arm their system. Others are afraid of making a mistake that results in a false alarm dispatch, which can be both annoying and costly.
If any of those sound like you, it’s time to refocus. Make it a habit to arm your system whenever you leave the house. Teach the kids how to do it, too. And put some good practices in place to help avoid unwanted false alarms.
Arming your system is especially important if your alarm control panel is anywhere in sight of your windows or visible through any glass panels in doors. Don’t make it easy for criminals who peek inside to literally see that your home is unprotected.
Failing To Arm Your Second Floor
You may have a high-tech alarm system to protect your valuables – and you may even be diligent about arming it – but if those valuables are in any of the typical places, like a master bedroom drawer on the second floor, then you’re very likely making it way too easy for criminals to steal them.
Most people alarm their first floors but don’t bother when it comes to the second. It might take a ladder or even a good lawn chair for a burglar to boost up, but that isn’t a very good deterrent.
If you haven’t taken security measures to protect your second floor, then call your alarm company right now. Glass break detectors and motion sensors coupled with your alarm monitoring service are ideal.
And don’t assume that just because you’ve put your valuables in a safe that they’re safe! Unless yours is built into a wall or large enough that it can’t be easily moved, burglars as just as likely to take off with your safe as they are to grab handfuls of jewelry from drawers.
Making It Too Obvious That You’re Not Home
There are the obvious signs that you’re not home – like mail piling up in the box, the lawn getting a little too scruffy, or perpetually darkened windows. Most of these are easily remedied. You can ask a neighbor to collect you mail, and put the landscaper on a regular schedule with the lawn. You can also install technology to turn lights on and off at intervals.
But other signs are not so obvious – like being too predictable. If you always turn the outside lights on at 8PM and off at 5AM then instead of deterring criminals, you may be sending signals that your lights are on a timer and you’re not actually home. The same is true for interior lights.
A better idea is to have lights go on and off at random intervals, just as they might if you were home and moving between kitchen, bedroom and living room. Smart home systems can also be programmed to open and close blinds, even turn the TV on and off so your home will show all the signs of regular activity when you’re not there.
So even if you swear you’ll never be that person who leave your keys in an unlocked car, remember that your home and property may not be as safe as you think it is. Small, careless mistakes can leave wide open windows for criminals.
If you’d like to learn more about your vulnerabilities, or talk about how alarms, monitoring and smart home technology can work for you, contact us for a free security audit and estimate. We’re available to answer your questions and keep your home safe.