Ever had that sinking feeling as you head off on a holiday's at Christams? Have you locked all the doors and windows? Is our home secure enough? Will the garden survive the heat? It’s a lot to think about and not the best way to start a relaxing holiday! There are certain types of homes that are irresistible to thieves, and this leads us to the question: why is this house being targeted over to the one beside it?
So, what are some of the mistakes home owners are making;
1. Get those ladders off the walls
A ladder resting against your house or wall is a welcome sign for any thieve to enter your premises. It offers them a quick and very easy way to crawl through your second-storey window. Most likely, you will be worried about having dead-bolted your front and back door to even worry about your openings on the second floor. But with a ladder easily available and in plain sight, you’re giving thieves a free pass.
My Tip? Keep all your windows and doors locked when you go out of the house — and that includes those in the upper floors. If you own a ladder, make sure to hide it in your garage or outdoor shed after use.
2. Don’t let those newspapers, junk mail or mail pile up
Stacked unread mail and newspapers sitting on the front porch or drive way are a dead giveaway that nobody’s home. This is a very common mistake of people who go on trips. In your excitement, you will sometimes forget to arrange for someone to collect your mail.
My Tip? Before heading going on a holiday, arrange to have your mail collect by a trusted service
3. Secure your rubbish bins
Thieves say they often survey the contents of rubbish bins to determine the type of people in their target house — and if they have money. Looking at your rubbish is like browsing a catalogue of the things you own. Did you just buy a new Smart TV? The box will most likely show up in the trash for the thieves to see.
My Tip? Never leave boxes of newly purchased items on the foot path for everyone to see. It’s best that you stomp on them to make them lay flat or place them inside black rubbish bags. Better yet, bring them directly to a rubbish yard.
4. Trim your hedges and move possible hiding spots
Tall hedges, overgrown bushes and life-size garden ornaments are a great place for intruders to hide while they case your home. The bushier your plants are, the better it is for them to peek into the window to see what’s inside that’s potentially valuable, or just study the comings and goings of the people in your household. When they figure out the pattern in your schedules, it will be easier for burglars to plot a plan and escape.
My Tip? Trim your bushes and trees regularly so they don’t create hiding spots for thieves. Another thing that might help is to install a motion detector lighting system near windows and doors for your added peace of mind.
5. Don’t broadcast your activities on social media
So, the whole family is going to Hawaii and you want everyone to know how excited you are? The burglar will be, too. When you brag about your trip on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and similar channels, the burglar might not find value in your post but he or she will certainly love the fact that nobody’s home.
My Tip? Stop announcing where you going to go and for how long you will be away. It might be tempting to keep posting updates of where you are in real-time but that can also be signal for intruders that it’s time. While you might only be connected to friends on social media, you never really know who’s watching. Thus, it’s either you keep your trips private, or at least wait until you’ve return to upload those photos.
Make Your Home Look Alive
The more “alive” your household looks, the lower the likelihood that it will be burglars’ next target. Thieves are called so because they don’t want to be seen while they do their thing. If your home seems like somebody inside, they won’t likely attempt to enter. Burglars say they often observe houses where the lights had been off for at least two days. That’s the signal to enter.
My Tip? There are plenty of affordable smart home security systems nowadays that will help make it look like somebody’s home. You can program it to turn the lights on and off several random times a day. Burglars know that most households do leave the lights on when they go out, but if these lights keep changing, you can actually outsmart them. Some nifty devices can also control your TV, radio and more. In fact, the fancier systems allow you to access your home in real-time through an app and control it from there, even if you’re miles away.
Surprisingly, most thieves aren’t interested in stealing your TV or surround sound system – they only want small items they can carry in luggage stolen from your home.
Most interesting of all is the paperwork sitting on your study desk and any files inside – that’s valuable information they can sell.
Even with just your name and address they can clone your identity and sell your credit to the highest bidder. It will be a nightmare for you to sort out – if they get passports, bank cards and drivers’ licences then all the better.
Children’s rooms aren’t off limits and are a major target – that is one of the first places a burglar looks for valuables. At the back of wardrobes and behind your cupboard drawers, and even from looking through an outside window they can see your family calendar – showing them when you are going away and inviting them back to break in.
So STOP and think before you hide valuables in your children’s rooms, your family calendar up in view of windows and doors. Perhaps invest in a decoy safe and place it in plain sight, thieves will take the one thing that looks to be of most value as they want to be out of your home as quick as can be.
Natasha Morgan | My Home Watch | CEO / Founder www.myhomewatch.com.au
My Home Watch