If you have read any of our blog posts you know that we are big proponents of adding a home security system to your home. This is the single largest thing you can do to help protect you and your family from a potential break in. Assuming that you have already taken that step or are going to do it soon, there are a few other things that you can do in order to increase the safety an security of your home and family. The following list are things that burglars typically use as indicators that a home is an easy target. Remember that burglars are just like anyone else and will typically take the path of least resitance. This means that burglars typically aren't looking for the biggest best house, but are often looking for the house that would be the easiest to break into.
Here are 9 things burglars use to identify you home as a potential target.
Mail overflowing from mailbox or papers piling up on front door / driveway
Often times when we go on vacation we are so wrapped up in the travel plans and getting the family ready that we totally forget about things like who is going to collect the mail or pick up the paper from the yard. When burglars case a neighborhood one thing they look for is an overflowing mailbox or piles of papers in your driveway. To them this is an immediate signal that someone has been away for an extended period of time, and if they move quickly they can probably break in without the threat of someone being inside. Next time you are going to be away for an extended period of time make sure you get a neighbor or friend to regularly pick up your mail, and papers from your yard.
House numbers are not easily visible from the street.
This one you might ask what does this have to do with my home security. Well the fact of the matter is that if your home were to be burglarized, and whether you are home and alert the police, or your home security system alerts the police of a potential break in if the authorities can't find your home because its not clearly marked on the street, those precious seconds could be the difference between catching the burglar red handed or them getting away. Make sure that the numbers on your home are easly seen from the street both in the light of day as well as being well lit at night. Seconds matter in this scenario so make sure you make it as easy as possible for the police to find your home.
No Alarm system signs in the yard.
If you have already installed an alarm system the alarm company should have provided you with stickers and signs that you should put in your windows and in your front yard. We want to make sure that they are in plain site so that when a burglar is casing potential homes to rob that your home SCREAMS I have a security system installed. If you have decided to not go with a security system or the alarm company hasn't provided stickers and yard signs then you should consider using fake security signs. While there is some debate on the efficacy of fake security signs, the goal here is to do all you can to signal to burglars that your home will not be easy to break in to. Every little bit counts and this is a key piece in sending the rigth message about your home.
Cars in yard that are left unlocked.
Often times we are in a rush to get in the house after a long days work, or when unloading the kids after picking them up from school. Well leaving your car unlocked gives burglars the opprotunity to find things like, spare keys, garage door openers, personal information, etc. If your like me you either have programmed your car with your garage door code, or you have a garage door opener hanging from your visor. Well if you leave your car door opened then could be quite literally giving them the keys to the kingdom. Even if you don't have spare keys or a garage door opener in your car if you have any personal information in there this could be used by the burglar in what is called social engineering. Here is an example. Say that you have some of your kids homework or a report card leftover in your car. Now the burglar knows what school your child attends and their name. Now all they have to do is call your home, and act as someone from the school and tell you that there has been an accident with your child and that you must come quickly. Since they identified themselves as an official from the school and knew your childs name there isn't much reason for you to question the call, and you head out to your childs school to make sure they are ok. Now the burglar has gotten you to leave your home in a rush and maybe even because you left in a hurry you have left one of your doors unlocked. All because you didn't lock the doors on your car. Make sure locking your car in your driveway is a habit that you practices religiously.
Valuables clearly visible through windows or sliding glass doors.
When casing a neighborhood burglars typically look for easy targets, once they have identified a few potential homes, they will then look for which one they think has the most potential to pay big. If you have valuables that are visible form the street eg: paintings, tv's, av equipment, then this could be the difference between the burglar choosing your home and choosing your neighbors. Do your best to either keep valuables out of line of sight or have window coverings installed to prevent people from seeing in.
Pathways around home are not well let.
Even though most burlgaries happen during the hours of 10am - 3pm there are still a signifigant amount that occur at night. With this in mind if a burglar is going to try and gain entry using the cloak of night, then we want to do everything we can to make it difficult for them. Some times burglars aren't even trying to gain entry to your home but instead are trying to steal things from your back yard (bbq's, smokers, bicycles, outdoor tv's). Well if you don't have pathways well lit then they could just walk into your backyard without any concern from anyone inside being alerted by a motion sensing outdoor light, or a passer by seing someone going into your backyard. Make sure that you have the pathways around your home well lit with either a timed or motion sensing out door light.
No surveilance cameras on property.
The days of surveilance cameras being only available to businesses, because of how expensive they are is a thing of the past. With the increase in smart devices and wireless technology home security cameras are now available to the average consumer and can greatly increase the security of your home. If a burglar can see that your front door as well as the paths on the side of your home are being monitored by security cameras then they have to assume that those cameras are recording and even if they aren't caught in the act that you can provide that tape to the authorities, and will have the potential to be caught down the line. Again our primary goal here is to signal to burlgars that your home is NOT going to be an easy target.
Keys left under Mat or pots around door.
Burglars will often times make "dry runs" by homes that they are targeting. These can come in the form of posing as a fake delivery driver, or a person going door to door doing surveys. They will keep logs of when people are home and when they are away. They will also do cursory checks for things that could be hiding places for keys. Its pretty easy to walk up to a home, knock on the door, and if no one is home take a couple seconds to check if there are any keys hidden under pots or on top of door sills. Burglars have ways of getting past locks, but if they can find a key then they can shave off the time it takes to gain entry.
Homes that were recently sold.
While there aren't any steps you can take other than taking down the for sale sign on your newly purchased home to keep a burglar from identifying you recently purchased your home. If you take some time to consider why this is important to a burglar then you can take steps to eliminate the allure. Recently sold homes are often times in transition. Meaning locks are being rekeyed, you may be doing renovations so windows are often left open to air out paint and construction smells, and you probably haven't found your nightly groove of locking down your home. This means that there is often a window of time that burglars can take advantage of on recently sold homes. Make sure you take extra precautions during the first weeks after a sale. One of the first things we recommned is getting a home security system installed, as well as putting in security cameras that cover your entries. If you have these even if you were to leave a door unlocked, you are still signaling "burglar beware". This home is monitored, and they shouold try and break in at their own peril.
When you are thinking about home security often times the best approach is to put yourself in the shoes of the burglar. This way you can try and identify potential weaknesses as address them before a burglar has a chance to identify them. Remember you typical burglar isn't a rocket scientist. They aren't coming up with complex ways to break into your home like you would see in the movies. They are trying to identify homes that would be the easiest to break in to, and give them the least chance of getting caught. If you take action on this post you will have taken a great step forward in protecting what you care about.