With Thanksgiving soon upon us, the holiday season is about to jump into full swing. Travel, busy party schedules, and shopping can leave homes unoccupied. We know that residential crime spikes over the holidays: it gets dark earlier, homes start to fill up with unwrapped presents, and burglars are especially active, so you need to make sure to secure your property and give yourself some well-deserved peace of mind while you are away from home – even if you’re just at the mall. This top ten home security checklist only takes a few minutes to review: it’s definitely worth the read, and you’ll want to take these precautionary steps.
1) Think Like a Burglar. Look objectively at your home and try to find a way in. Ladder left outside? Put it away. Shrubs to hide behind, or trees to climb that give access to upstairs? Vents? Dog doors? Get creative – and sneaky! Since burglars are increasingly cutting phone lines, you’re in great shape with safer cellular monitoring.
2) Watch Out for Social Media. Be very careful about what you post - you never know who is reading your travel plans or your party schedule, and criminals have become very savvy about using Facebook and other social media to chart your whereabouts. Pass this tip onto your children. And beware identity theft as well: this is a favorite time of year for fake charities to part you from your money, and from your SSN, credit card numbers, etc.
3) Doors, Windows, and Locks. The front or back door is the most common point of entry by a burglar. Be sure your doors are locked: as many as 40% of burglaries occur through an unlocked door or window. Remember to use that deadbolt to back up the primary lock. Unlocked ground floor windows are a frequent point of entry, especially at the back and sides of the house. For home security owners, one glassbreak sensor can cover many windows in an area. The door from the garage into the house also deserves a good lock – preferably a deadbolt. Here’s a great link to our post on where intruders break in.
4) Keys and Keychains. Chances are your hidden key is not so hard to find: have your friends guess –you’ll likely need to be a bit more creative. And don’t put an address on your keys. A keychain without an address is useless to a burglar, but with your address it’s a personalized invitation to your home. Some folks even recommend removing your home address from your vehicle GPS, in case your car is stolen: use a nearby address instead.
5) Light It Up. The last thing a burglar wants is to be seen. Exterior lights (especially the ones that are activated by motion) are a great deterrent to intruders, who focus on the rear and sides of your home – which is why alarm company professionals focus on those areas when designing a good system. And use interactive services to control the lights in your home, set to go on at different or even random times.
6) Know Your Neighbors. It really helps if we are looking out for each other. Are any of your neighbors staying home – and could they keep an eye on your home? Perhaps they’ll even park a car in your driveway. Some people even ask a neighbor leave tire tracks in your driveway after a fresh snowfall. Encourage neighbors to report suspicious behavior – to a would-be burglar, a patrolling squad car is a very powerful message to “Move on!”
7) Papers, Snow, Mail, etc. Nothing is more inviting to a bad guy than the “We’re away!” message. And speaking of neighbors, they appreciate it if your house looks loved and lived-in. Cancel deliveries or task a friend to keep things ship-shape. You can repay the favor and shovel for a neighbor when they leave town!
8) Close Those Curtains! Make it harder to see the expensive presents that are accumulating under the tree. And once the computers and fancy electronics come out of their boxes, think hard about when you put those boxes outside: they are a clear advertisement for burglars casing the neighborhood.
9) Fire, Low Temperature, and Water. FrontPoint systems can monitor all types of environmental conditions – for not a penny more than you pay today. Fire monitoring is a good place to start: remember, when you’re away, those “noisemaker” alarms won’t do much good. Since you can add sensors to your FrontPoint system any time, think about how much better you’ll feel knowing you’ll be alerted by text or email for events like low temperature, to help you avoid frozen pipes – or alert you if water does accumulate in your basement.
10) Arm your Alarm System. Just as with your door and window locks, even the best alarm system is no help unless it’s used. Believe it or not, almost half the people with alarm systems do not arm them on a regular basis. When you are completely out of the home, remember to arm the system in the “Away” mode – that way, all your sensors are engaged. After all – your FrontPoint system is the most convenient peace of mind you can find, and those friendly mobile apps are just part of the reason why.