By Dan Stout – Family Handyman
Hiding Keys Outside
Many people hide a house key somewhere in the yard. That’s great if someone is taking care of your home or if you accidentally lock yourself out. Unfortunately, most home owners “hide” their key in obvious spots where a burglar will look immediately. Don’t just put that key under the welcome mat!
The further from the house a key is hidden, the better. A disguised item, such as a fake rock, is only useful if hidden among similar items, like actual rocks. Don’t make it easy for a criminal!
Bushes Too Close to the Home
Much like a fence, your choices in landscaping can make your home more or less friendly to those with ill intentions. Bushes and trees up against the side of the home provide cover in the same way that a privacy fence might. Correct this mistake by maintaining low height or thin-growing shrubs next to the home, and keep the taller, denser plants more distant.
You don’t have to give up all your plants, just give a little more thought to where they’re placed. Taller or more dense shrubs and bushes are fine against solid walls as long as windows and doors aren’t obscured.
A Better Home Security Solution Than Static Lights
Many homeowners first respond to home security needs by installing outdoor lighting. They turn on the lights at the end of the day, or maybe install a timer or light sensor so that the lights come on automatically at night. While those fixtures do light up your yard, they also creates dense pockets of shadows that make great hiding spots.
You can find a much better solution in motion sensors. You still have the illumination, but they may surprise someone prowling around the home, and surprises scare most intruders away. Plus, the sudden change can attract attention. Motion sensors save energy, leading to lower electric bills and longer-lasting light bulbs.
Alarm System Line of Sight
Alarm systems are wonderful tools, but sometimes the installation crews don’t guide customers enough during installation. Too often, crews install the control pad where it can be seen from a first floor window. That allows potential thieves to peer in and see whether the system is activated. That alarm company yard sign won’t mean much if they know the system is off — particularly at night when the green or red status light shines like a beacon in a darkened home.
Mail Pileups Undermine Home Security Measures
Few things advertise an absent homeowner like piled-up mail and newspapers. Criminals don’t even need to slow down their vehicle to spot an overflowing mailbox or newspapers scattered on a porch.
To avoid this, contact your local post office and/or newspaper to suspend service while away. Because these services sometimes miss a day or take a little bit of time to cease delivery, it’s also a good idea to ask a friend or neighbor to swing by and collect any mail or newspapers that accumulate.
A little activity around the front of the home also helps to make it look occupied. It’s also a good idea to protect your mail with a security mailbox
Don’t Sleep on Daytime Risk
Most people associate break-ins with the nighttime. While burglars do appreciate the cover of darkness, what they really appreciate is an empty house. At night, people usually hang around home. Instead, burglars find homes more inviting with everyone at school and work!
Since most break-ins occur during the day, take the appropriate measures. Turn on your alarm system when you’re gone, keep an eye out for suspicious activity and make sure you close and lock all doors and windows. This applies when you go to work, school or just out to run errands.
Visible Valuables Jeopardize Home Security
Besides measures outside your home, give some thought to what can be seen inside your home, as well. Many home owners forget that windows create a two-way portal: Just as you can see out of them, a potential intruder can see in.
If you have especially valuable items, consider whether they can be seen from a ground-floor window, such as first-floor bedrooms where jewelry or other valuable items may reside on dressers. Some large items like televisions present difficult home-security positioning issues. In that case, pull the shades or shut the blinds each evening.
Packaging Left by the Curb
Many neighborhoods employ curbside trash and recycling collection. Don’t just leave packaging from an expensive item such as a television or laptop by the curb. That broadcasts the presence of an expensive new item in the home.
Resolve the issue simply: Use a utility knife to cut the packaging into smaller pieces and stack them in a way that doesn’t display what they once held. (Bonus tip: When you’ve dulled that utility blade)