Full disclaimer – As I did research for this blog entry I found myself guilty of nearly ALL of these burglar friendly “worst practices” at one time or another. Number 6 was my most blaring infraction…
That being said, July and August are beautiful months here in the Carolinas if you like sun and heat. It’s right in the middle of a summer season of day trips, full blown vacations and time spent enjoying our homes and the amenities this great area provides us. As we go about our days focusing on getting the most out of the last few weeks of kids home and time away from work – take a few minutes to review some tips on how to keep your home, your valuables and possibly your family safe from unwanted “guests” helping themselves to your things.
Are you guilty of any of the following?
- Window Shopping Extravaganza: Are your valuables clearly visible from your windows? Is your pride and joy 60″ Smart TV featured prominently from your front lawn? I’m not suggesting you move the TV but drawing the blinds or curtains is definitely a good idea to prevent browsing from potential burglars.
- It’s a Jungle Out There!: Although as mentioned above it’s a good idea to conceal your belongings from showing though your windows, over grown trees and shrubs aren’t the way to do it. Burglars love a safe, hidden place to lurk near doors and windows as they contemplate their point of entry. Keep landscaping neat and trim, below the level of your windows and away from door ways.
- Loved Your Vacation Photos!: I’m ALWAYS guilty of this one. Only my “friends” can see vacation photo posts I put on facebook so I always thought, “What’s the harm?” Apparently there have been cases where well intentioned friends have shared information gleaned from social media that eventually alerts the wrong person to your absence. Snap those selfies in front of landmarks while away – just wait until you’re home to flood facebook, Twitter and Instagram with them.
- Where’s Waldo?: Speaking of social media, apparently we do more than just show we’re away when we post, more often than not using geo-tracking features available with many of those apps, we’re giving real time data as to where we are at any given point in time. “Checking-In” using Twitter, or social apps like FourSquare could inadvertently be sending out your location to anyone that searches using your online name. Mine came up blank (thankfully), but you can check what you’re sending out at the humourously named www.pleaserobme.com website.
- We Left You a Key: We’ve all done it. Under the mat. Over the door ledge. Under a rock. Over the left outdoor light. In the mailbox. I’ve used all of these as master hiding spaces for an extra key. I’m amazed I have anything left in my home. If you HAVE TO hide a key outside there are some clever ideas HERE. Assuming would be burglars don’t subscribe to the same page of course…
- Climbing to New Heights: This is the one that I’m embarrassed to admit to because I didn’t think it was a common error until I started doing some research. We leave ladders in unlocked sheds, by the side of the house, or in my case for the 2 weeks it took me to finally bring down Christmas lights one spring in May – leaning up against my house. We often forget to secure 2nd story windows. Don’t give them the stairway to heaven they need to access them quickly.
- Flimsy Back Doors: It’s surprising how many absolutely beautiful homes – updated, upgraded and well anointed – have a basic wood panel door securing their garage or back entry. One well placed kick and these burglars are in. Install a steel wrapped, exterior door with a deadlock in order to be less inviting to intrusion.
- It’s a Jungle Out There Part II: We’ve all been guilty of putting off mowing the lawn – especially as we hit the 90 degree mark here in the Greater Charlotte Area. An overgrown lawn, coupled with neglected mail, newspapers and flyers screams “There’s nobody home!!” Have a neighbor collect your mail, newspaper and take care of your lawn if you’re going to be away for an extended period of time.
- Open Sesame!: How often have you gone on a trip and left one of the family vehicles sitting in the driveway? It can actually help create the illusion that someone is home, which can be beneficial. But…when you’re guilty of one or more of the above, AND have a garage door opener in said car, you’ve just provided easy access to the place where we often store lots of tools that can be used by the burglar to get into your home. All in the privacy of a well lit, private area where he can take his time getting in. Nothing like providing opportunity, access, tools and privacy all in one. Lock the car up, and keep the garage door shut tight. Keep tools out of the garage if possible. Finally, many garage door opening systems offer a “lock out” setting that will prevent remotes from working until turned off. Not a bad idea if you can remember to utilize at night for a bit of extra safety.
- Dumpster Diving: I knew not to throw away sensitive, potential identity theft type information in our trash. I never realized that boxes – especially during gift giving season – left by the curb could be a way for criminals to stake out potential homes for theft. Break down TV, computer, electronic boxes or other indication of attractive items and place in your dumpster or recycling bin whenever possible.
Leave us a comment if you found any of the above especially enlightening or have a tip you think people would benefit from knowing.
As always – looking forward to reading your thoughts,