Great home security starts with the right frame of mind and the determination to make home security a priority.
But home security certainly doesn't end there, because all the good intentions in the world won't help if you or family members regularly make home security mistakes. Burglars keep up with the times, knowing what security measures they face (or don't face) in a neighborhood they have an eye on, and they also know that people make a number of very common home security mistakes -- sometimes on a daily basis.
Here are 5 of the most common home security mistakes that you can learn from before you become the victim of a burglary.
1. Overestimating Door Frame Strength
Most people think that having a high-quality deadbolt lock will keep a doorway from being breached. But in fact, a deadbolt can only do so much. When someone kicks down a door, it's not usually the door, but the door frame that gives way. One very simple thing you can do to improve the integrity of your door frame is to use long (3 to 4-inch) screws to hold the strike plates in place. When lock and latch strike plates are held in with short screws, as they often are, the door frame is far more vulnerable to being kicked in. This improvement costs next to no money, is quick and easy, and can make a real difference in the security of your home.
2. "Hiding" a Spare Key Outside
Even casual burglars know all the common hiding places people use for their spare keys. That fake rock next to the porch isn't fooling anyone. If losing your keys or getting locked out is a common occurrence in your household, you have much better options. For one thing, you could add a biometric (fingerprint) or digital keycode lock to your exterior doors. These are becoming more affordable, and homeowners generally like not having to dig for keys when they get home. Another alternative is to leave a spare key with a trusted neighbor who is at home most of the time.
3. Not Securing Garages and Sheds
For some reason, people leave garages and sheds open or unlocked when they wouldn't dream of leaving the rest of their house similarly unsecured. Not only is one of your most valuable possessions stored in your garage, garages often house expensive tools that are especially targeted by burglars. Sheds often hold expensive bicycles and yard tools and yet are frequently left unlocked. Furthermore, a garage or shed may hold the "key" to breaking into an upper floor: a ladder. Secure your garage and shed just as you would the rest of your home.
4. Neglecting Second Floor Security
You may wonder why you need to bother locking second-story windows, but burglars have many ingenious ways of reaching upper floors. Some homes may have deck railing from which a burglar could reach a second story window easily. If you have a ladder stored in an unlocked shed, a burglar can reach vulnerable upper story entrances very easily. And some burglars are quite accomplished at shimmying up heavy drain pipes to reach upper floors. Lock those second-story windows and lock up your ladder. You can also purchase burglar-proof paint for drain pipes that remains greasy and sticky rather than drying, and that also sticks to a burglar's hands and clothes. One touch and a burglar will quickly change his mind about climbing up a drain pipe.
5. Leaving Home Security Systems Unarmed
While the mere presence of a security system decal or yard sign can deter some burglars, the sad fact is that many owners of home security systems simply do not arm their systems consistently at night or while they're away. Doing so should become a habit for all family members who leave the house unoccupied. Another tip is to use hard-to-guess security codes for keypads and never keep the default code that comes with the system. It's all too easy for burglars to find out what various security system default codes are, and too often they succeed by using them. You've invested in a home security system: help it do what it was designed to do.
Helping keep your home safe from burglary requires a comprehensive approach, and one of the best places to start is by making sure you're not unintentionally making things easier for burglars.