Guest Blogger: Wes Wernette
In the United States, more than 2 million burglaries happen every year, with the highest percentage of break-ins occurring during the summer months. And it’s not difficult to see why. June, July, and August bring:
- Vacation season: many homes remain empty for weeks
- Heat waves: non-vacationers keep doors and windows open more often
- Home renovation projects: ladders and tools are left lying around
Don’t want to become a statistic? Below are some of the top summer security tips to keep your home and family safe this summer.
1. Start with the Basics
Let’s get the easy ones out of the way first. The following are simple fixes you should implement, if only for peace of mind. But there are also compelling liability factors at work too. Many insurance policies won’t cover you if you don’t take proactive steps to protect your person or property.
- Invest in proper locks for all entry points — including doors and windows.
- For sliding doors, purchase a long metal rod that fits snugly in the bottom tracks.
- Buy an alarm system for your home. No system is 100 percent effective (as evidenced by the fact that an alarm goes off every 15 seconds in the US). But homes without alarm systems face a 300 percent higher risk of getting burglarized.
- For most public buildings (stores, schools, hospitals, etc.), door hinges are on the outside. This is to prevent stampeding during evacuation emergencies. But residential door hinges should be on the inside. Otherwise, burglars can simply lift out the pins and walk right in.
- Don’t hide keys in fake rocks, mailboxes, or under welcome mats. Robbers watch Hollywood movies too.
- Invest in a peephole for the front door. It’s an incredibly simple fix that carries absolutely zero regrets.
Lastly, if you’re a dog lover, you’re in luck. Given a choice between House A (with no dog) and House B (with any type of dog, big or small), most burglars will choose the former.
If you don’t have a dog, you can always leave out bowls and treats to make it look like you do.
Speaking of which…
2. Keep up Appearances — Even When Away
In the classic 1990s movie Home Alone, Macaulay Culkin goes through a hilarious sequence of steps to make it look like his nearly empty house is full. Obviously, this farce is for comedic effect, but the boy was onto something.
When away from home (at work or on vacation), make your house look “lived in.” This means:
- Setting up timers to turn on lights and appliances randomly throughout the day. There are even mobile apps that allow remote control access.
- Arranging to have your mail picked up by a friend (or held by the post office).
- Having a friend or relative periodically visit to open curtains, move cars around, and even mow the lawn.
3. Don’t Broadcast Your Travel Plans
It’s tempting to share your excitement about upcoming vacation plans — especially on social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter. But remember that burglars are plugged in and connected too. Don’t mention any vacation travel (or post pictures) until after you return.
This rule applies to everyone in the household.
Bonus Tip: Traveling by plane this summer? On luggage tags, only write down your name, email address, and mobile phone number. Home addresses and landline numbers are off-limits.
4. Get to Know Your Neighbors
If you have the resources, starting a Neighborhood Watch in your community is a great idea. But you actually don’t need anything so formal or organized. Instead, simply take the time to introduce yourself to surrounding neighbors. Have them over for dinner every now and then. You might even find some willing teenage dog-walkers, lawn-mowers or car-parkers who’ll charge a lot less than professionals do.
The Most Important Summer Security Tip of All
There’s no such thing as a robbery-proof home. If someone wants in badly enough, he or she will find a way.
But thieves typically look for the path of least resistance — which is why alarm systems, dogs and secure locks are such terrific deterrents. Why go through the hassle of breaking into your well-fortified home when other houses on the block look so much more inviting?
Your job, as a homeowner, is to think like burglars think. Walk around the inside and outside of your house and look for creative ways that thieves can break in — you may be surprised by what you discover.
About the author: Wes Wernette currently oversees marketing at FireKing Security Group in New Albany, IN. He has more than 25 years of experience in marketing and is an expert in product development and sales in the high tech and security industries.