Most break-ins are crimes of opportunity, but there are also planned break-ins and burglaries. Dedicated burglars will spend time casing a neighborhood, taking stock of what they can in your yard and your comings and goings; you’d be surprised at how much you can learn about a home just by looking at it from the street. Ask any experienced burglar what attracts them to a home, and they’ll tell you about all sorts of tell-tale signs and things to look for that tend to pass right over most people’s heads – whether it’s something simple like forgetting to arm your alarm system, or letting mail collect on your front doorstep when out of town. Here are some of the most common home security mistakes you need to avoid.
1. Hiding The Spare Key Outside
This is extremely common and very easy for any burglar to figure out – whether they’re an experienced pro or a novice burglar. All it takes is a burglar with some awareness, and any experienced burglar can simply check all the common hiding spots – the mailbox, under the doormat, in the grill – find your key, and make their way in without problem. It might be okay every once in a while, if a friend needs to get into the house, but shouldn’t be a habit.
Instead, look into equipping your front and back door with a smart lock system, and integrating it into your home security system. This will allow you to unlock it remotely for family or friends, or a code-operated lock with PIN code and touchpad.
2. Putting Expensive Items & Boxes In The Trash
One easy way for burglars to know what’s in your home is to look through your trash – as silly as that sounds. If you’ve left the box for that brand new flat screen out by the curb, anybody passing by will know what’s inside the home. What about the box from that brand-new, expensive speaker system?
Instead, take your trash directly to the recycling center when throwing away valuables. Or at least break them down, crush them and stick them deep inside, where no one can directly see them. And this idea isn’t relevant to just trash; be sure to avoid placing expensive belongings and toys in prominent places, in windows, etc, where they can be seen. Even a very expensive car can be a clue you have valuables inside.
3. Forgetting to Arm the Home Security System When Leaving The House
Again, this sounds silly, but forgetting to arm your alarm system – or even lock your back door – is easier than it sounds and leaves a wide-open avenue for burglars and thieves to make their way in without setting off the alarm or alerting the police.
If your home has the classic burglar alarm with control panel, be sure to lock the door and manually activate the alarm every time you head out of the house. Even better, upgrade to a smart home security system that lets you activate it remotely from your phone or device, alerts you when you’ve forgotten, and lets you check in on your home throughout the day – wherever you are.
4. Arming the Security System When You’re Home
Many people believe they are automatically safe from break-ins just because they are home, but this isn’t the case. Just as you would most likely lock your doors before going to bed, you want to arm your burglar alarm before going to bed. If someone does try to break in while you’re home – a far more dangerous occurrence than a break-in while you’re away, you’ll be alerted and can react immediately, removing yourself from danger as fast as possible.
5. Not Using A Monitoring Service
Even if you have a smart security system with remote viewing and the ability to lock your doors remotely, you don’t want to the only one keeping an eye on your home – and you can’t be checking your phone all the time. Which is why you should have a monitoring service watching your home 24/7. In most case, your budget and burglar alarm system will only allow for alarm monitoring, which sends an alert to the monitoring service when the alarm is triggered – via broken door or window contact or motion detection. The monitoring service will first attempt to verify the incident and eliminate false alarms, before dispatching security officers or police to your address.
6. Placing Your Cameras Or Motion Detector In The Wrong Places
Ensuring your home is being properly protected by security cameras and motion detectors takes an expert’s opinion. Security cameras should be placed at all the important parts of the home, including the front door, back door, garage. But they should also be placed at key places on the exterior perimeter of the property, while motion detectors should be placed in the proper places inside the home in case a burglar does manage to make their way in.
At the same, your cameras and motion detectors also need to be placed high enough that they cannot be dismantled or tampered with. And while placing a few cameras or motion detectors strategically can act as an effective deterrent, it’s also a good idea to place some where they cannot be seen.
If you’re unsure where the best spots to place cameras or motion detectors is, consult a security installation professional who can help you get your home security system up and running with exactly the right coverage.
7. Not Using High-Resolution Cameras
If you do invest the money into a high-quality, comprehensive security camera system for your home, you want to make sure they’re of high enough resolution to be of use. Few cameras come in less than 1080P these days; any less will be of little use in analyzing video, detecting facial features and seeing detail. 1080p may not even be enough. If you have the money, it could be worth investing in cameras with even higher resolutions; 4k is ideal, and is becoming more and more available all the time.
8. Leaving The Second Floor Unsecured
It’s easy to forget about locking and closing the windows on the second floor. After all, what kind of burglar is determined enough to actually climb on the roof and try to get in through your upstairs bathroom? Wouldn’t that make them all the more suspicious, anyway?
Still, leaving upstairs windows unlocked and un-incorporated in your home security system is asking for trouble. Be sure to install secure, quality locks on all upstairs windows and balcony doors, and make sure they’re locked every time you leave the house. Also be sure to have door and window contacts installed on them in case of break-in.