On average, there are 5,000 burglaries per day in the United States. And while a reliable home security system can help prevent break-ins, the best protection is making your home as hard to break into as possible.
There are certain traits that burglars look for. Hiding places, dark corners, and isolated areas make homes far more appealing to thieves than a home with proper lighting and security. Is your home an easy target? Here are five ways you could be making your home vulnerable to break-ins.
1. Unlocked doors
It may seem like an obvious one, but so many people forget to lock their front door that it becomes a favored entry point for thieves. Even if you do lock your door, a shaded porch is the perfect place for potential burglars to hide until they can break the lock and get inside.
If you find yourself accidentally leaving the door unlocked (or it’s often left unlocked because of the dog walker, babysitter, or forgetful kids), consider investing in a smart lock. These locks can be remotely locked and unlocked from your smartphone. If you aren’t sure if the door is unlocked, you can always pull up the app and check. The easiest option is to simply make the door lock after a certain amount of time. For example, you can program it to lock after 15 minutes if left unlocked. It’s a cost-effective way to secure the main entry point into your home.
2. An untidy yard
If your grass is unmowed and full of weeds, it signals to anyone that may pass by that you aren’t at home. Burglars look for signs of neglect around a home to choose potential targets. A home left empty often makes a much better target than a closely watched one.
Tall shrubs and bushes might also make your home a target. Shrubs, especially those close to the home, provide ample places for burglars to approach unseen. Keep the bushes trimmed and cut back, and make sure landscaped areas close to the home are well-lit.
3. A disconnected neighborhood
Some people like to live away from their neighbors. Others like to live in new, hip neighborhoods with lots of turnover. Both could pose the same risk: they aren’t watched over by their neighbors. A home in the woods may be peaceful and quiet, but if you aren’t at home, there is no one to keep an eye on things. New neighborhoods have a lot of benefits, but new neighbors come and go often.
If you live in a new neighborhood, take time to get to know your neighbors. Nosy neighbors are some of the best home security systems you can find. If nothing else, let your neighborhood watch know when you’re going out of town and ask them to gather your newspapers from your door (another sign for burglars).
If you live far from your neighbors, invest in a security system. Make sure to equip your home with door and window sensors and security cameras around the perimeter. Keeping a security system sign in your front yard has been proven to deter potential burglars.
4. Signs that no one’s home
Burglars always go after the easy targets, and in most cases, that means an empty home. But even if you’re out of the house for long periods of time, you can make it seem like someone is home.
Install smart lights as a first step. These lights can be programmed to turn on and off at set times or random intervals throughout the day. Pair these with a smart outlet with the same functionality, and you can have the television playing in the background during hours it would normally be on. Any burglar watching the home will not be able to tell whether someone is inside or not.
5. Evidence of valuables
Savvy thieves check the local trash, especially in communities where it’s left at the side of the road. A home with an empty television box or video game console box beside the trashcan signals that there are valuable items inside. Likewise, open window blinds that give passersby full view of the expensive electronics inside your home pose a risk, too.
Take care to get rid of revealing items on the curb, and reduce the visibility into your home with smart blinds or shades.
The best defense against burglaries is prevention. Thieves will almost always choose the easier target, and if your home looks too risky, chances are they’ll move along. Avoid these common mistakes to keep your home safe.
Patrick Hearn is an Atlanta-based tech writer for Xfinity Home. A love of gadgets and an interest in futurology come together to make him an expert on smart home systems and automation.