Feeling safe and secure in your own home is a basic human need. But even the most cautious homeowner can make mistakes that leave their home vulnerable to burglars and intruders. Homeowners often underestimate the potential vulnerabilities lurking within their homes, unintentionally creating opportunities for malicious actors to breach their properties.
From overlooking simple precautions to depending on outdated security measures, the spectrum of home security mistakes is enormous and usually ignored until it’s too late. This guide will explore the most common home security mistakes that compromise home safety. Whether you’re a first-time or seasoned homeowner looking to strengthen your defenses, understanding these pitfalls is crucial in fortifying your home against evolving threats.
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What Are the Primary Security Weaknesses at Home?
Your home is a sanctuary where you feel protected and comfortable. Unfortunately, even the most vigilant homeowners may have security weaknesses that criminals can exploit. Below are some of the primary security weaknesses at home:
- Cheap lock hardware used on exterior doors:
Builders often use cheap lock hardware when building a home. These inexpensive lock hardware are not durable and can quickly be forced open by an intruder. It would help to replace the current lock sets on exterior doors with heavy-duty lock hardware.
- The garage door:
Garage doors are convenient when you bring in the groceries. Still, they pose a significant security risk if not adequately secured. If you own a hand-lifted garage door, know that the locks used to secure them are usually outdated, making them easier to break. Additionally, these doors are weighted, so lifting them is a breeze. These vulnerabilities make these doors an easy access point for would-be intruders.
Newer automatic doors are also vulnerable. Most of them are installed with an outdoor keypad to allow owners entry without requiring a car garage door opener. While security-conscious homeowners carefully program the keypad with an obscure entry code, many choose a simple, easy-to-guess number, often leaving the factory preset code.
Many garage doors also have windows. Although these can be aesthetically pleasing, they give would-be burglars clues about your whereabouts. Intruders can know if your car is gone by peering into the garage door windows, a good sign that the home is empty. You can avoid potential break-ins by choosing a carefully constructed garage door without windows or easy access points.
Ensure you change the factory setting on your outdoor keypad, and don’t use personal information like birthdays. Although these might be easier for you to remember, seasoned burglars often do research before trying to break in.
- Sliding glass doors:
Sliding glass doors are stunning: they allow natural light into your house while providing easy access to the fresh air outdoors. The downside? They also offer intruders easy access to your home. Although many modern sliding glass doors have solid and advanced locks, a burglar can quickly smash through the glass and unlock the door from the inside.
To avoid break-ins, install a keyed deadlatch on the door. Doing so ensures that breaking the glass pane won’t make unlocking the door a breeze. It would also help to get a glass door with multiple glass panes. A determined burglar can break through a single-paned door, but multiple panes render this entry method useless.
Lastly, ensure your sliding glass door is linked to a home security system, including automated law enforcement alerts. That way, an intruder will be greeted by the police if they attempt to escape after stealing your valuables.
- Poorly lit exterior:
Inadequate lighting around your home’s exterior creates hiding spots for would-be intruders and obscures their activities from view. Dark spots near entry points make it convenient for burglars to go unnoticed.
- Lack of surveillance:
Without security cameras, you cannot monitor activities around your home. Surveillance technology deters potential intruders and offers valuable evidence in case of a security breach.
- Neglected outdoor space:
Tall bushes and unkempt landscaping create hiding spots for burglars and obstruct the visibility of your property from passersby. Neglected outdoor spaces provide camouflage to malicious actors seeking unauthorized access to your property.
- Absence of alarm systems:
Alarm systems alert you and authorities to possible security breaches. Without them, your home remains vulnerable to unauthorized entry, raising the chances of successful break-ins.
- Social media oversharing:
Broadcasting vacation plans or sharing photos of precious possessions on social media platforms is like giving burglars an open invitation. Avoid sharing too much on social media.
Common Home Security Mistakes That Put You at Risk
Few things are more critical than your home’s safety and the people who live in it. A home security system can safeguard your home and its occupants by serving as a deterrent to crime. However, simple home security mistakes can render your property vulnerable to burglars.
Here are a few home security blunders to avoid:
- Too much privacy
While a privacy fence can help conceal your valuable possessions, it can offer a hiding spot and cover for burglars. Too much privacy can let an intruder enter your home undetected. Every home has a unique layout, but planning your privacy fencing before setting up security systems is best. This enables someone to see at least the main entryway from the street.
Doors are burglars’ most popular entry points, and a visible door complicates their job. A reinforced door is an excellent home security tip, and replacing your exterior door is a rewarding DIY project that may also boost your home’s curb appeal.
- Failing to lock windows or doors
This may seem obvious, but it’s surprisingly common. You may assume that a burglar will brute-force their way into your house, but they often target the lowest effort and impact when breaking in since they want to avoid drawing attention. Nothing simplifies that than leaving the door and window unlocked and letting them waltz right in.
You can avoid this by installing a security camera outside your front door to give the impression that someone is watching. Alternatively, you can purchase a sensor system that alerts you if a door or window is opened. Internet-connected locks can even let you lock the doors from the comfort of your location, and some systems will notify you when a lock has been left unlocked so you can fix it.
- Hiding keys in familiar places
We’ve all seen the movies where the burglar finds a spare key beneath the mat or in the fake rock. Burglars know all the typical hiding spots, so ditch the secret hiding place and choose a more secure option, such as a lockbox with a code. Don’t make it easy for a burglar!
- Not maintaining your tech.
Smart home technology has introduced security devices such as cameras, smart locks, etc. However, technology also presents a lot of potential points of failure for your home security system, some of which you may overlook if you assume that the technology “simply works.”
Consider how your smart home security devices function. Do they plug in or use a battery? Examine your plugged-in devices after a power loss to ensure they work, and check battery-operated devices frequently to ensure they work as expected. It’s equally important to update the software, as failure can render your technology unreliable or useless, leaving you susceptible to cybersecurity attacks.
- Relying on self-monitoring
While it may be tempting to rely solely on your ability to monitor security cameras and respond to alarm notifications independently, there’s a reason behind security companies offering monitoring services. It’s a job that demands constant attention. Your camera or alarm can be activated by innocuous events needing your investigation. You may be busy and unable to check the situation on time when your camera detects a genuine break-in.
There are ways to self-monitor your home security system. Still, it’s worth enlisting a security company to oversee alerts if you can afford it. Their expertise and round-the-clock vigilance can offer unmatched peace of mind.
- Overlooking your landscaping
Much like a fence, landscape design decisions might make your home more or less welcoming to individuals with ill intentions. Bushes and trees along the side of the home offer cover similar to a privacy fence. Address this mistake by maintaining low-height or thin-growing shrubs near the home and keeping the denser plants far away.
You don’t need to sacrifice all your plants; simply consider their placement.
- Installing outdoor static lights
Most homeowners first address their home security issues by installing outdoor lights. They switch on the security lights at the end of the day or install a timer to activate them automatically at night. While these fixtures illuminate your yard, they also create dense pockets of shadows that provide excellent hiding places.
Motion sensors offer a significantly better solution. You retain the illumination, but they can surprise those creeping around your home. Surprises deter most intruders, plus the dramatic change can draw attention, discouraging would-be burglars from continuing their acts. Motion sensors conserve energy, resulting in lower utility costs and longer-lasting light bulbs.
- Visible valuables
Consider what can be seen inside your home and the measures taken outside. Most people overlook that windows create a two-way portal: an intruder can see in just as easily as you can see out.
If you own precious items, check whether they can be spotted from a ground-floor window, like first-floor bedrooms where valuable possessions may reside on dressers. Some large products like TVs present complex home-security positioning issues. In this situation, pull the shades or close the blinds every evening. Also, consider keeping valuables out of sight or in a secret hideaway.
- Packaging left by the curb
Most neighborhoods employ curbside trash and recycling pickup. Avoid leaving packaging from expensive items like TVs or laptops by the curb. This signals the presence of a costly item in your house. Cut the packaging into tiny pieces using a utility knife and stack them so they don’t highlight what they once held.
- Alarm system line of sight
Alarm systems are great additions to any security setup. Still, sometimes installation workers don’t offer enough guidance to customers during installation. Installation crews often install the control pad where it is visible from a first-floor window. This allows would-be burglars to peer in and confirm whether the system is armed. That alarm company yard sign will mean nothing if they know the system is turned off, especially at night when the status light shines in a darkened home.
- Social media travel posts
Social media is suitable for staying in touch with friends and sharing travel memories and photos after your trip. It’s worth noting that social media channels are public platforms, similar to using a megaphone to address a large crowd. Only share your travel plans if you’re okay with the whole social media world knowing. Since social media accounts are set to public, burglars often search for keywords such as travel, trip, out-of-town, or vacation to discover homes whose occupants are away.
It’s best to wait until you return home to reveal details about your excursion. Doing this helps avoid tipping off burglars and intruders. If you should inform people about your trip, mark the posts as “private” when uploading.
- Mail Pileups
Few things advertise an empty home, like piled-up mail and newspapers. Perpetrators don’t have to slow down their cars to spot an overflowing mailbox or newspapers lying on a porch. You can avoid this by requesting your local post office or newspaper to suspend service while you’re not around.
Since these services sometimes skip a day or take some time to stop delivering, it’s wise to ask your immediate neighbor or friend to swing by and pick up any mail or newspaper that piles up. It’s also advisable to protect your mail with a security mailbox.
- Ladder access
Burglars who want to stay out of sight and move fast rarely carry a ladder on a break-in. However, some homeowners simplify a burglar’s effort by offering easy access to their second floor.
Avoid leaving ladders lying around the yard where prowlers can find them. Most intruders look for opportunities and will only consider a second-floor entry if you leave a ladder nearby.
- Not changing the default passwords and usernames on smart home devices.
Nowadays, hackers target smartphones, computers, and smart home devices. You can protect yourself from malicious actors by changing your smart devices’ default usernames and passwords to something more secure.
How Can I Protect My House Without a Security System?
While a comprehensive security system can improve your home’s safety, there are multiple strategies you can implement to protect your home without one. These tips should help you feel safer in your home even without a security system:
- Secure entry points:
The basis of home security is to have robust locks on all doors and windows. Reinforced doors, deadbolts, and sturdy window locks help prevent intruders from accessing your home. Check your lock’s condition occasionally and fix or replace any worn or damaged.
- Enhance lighting:
Installing motion sensor lights around your home can boost security, particularly at night. Well-lit areas discourage burglars by eliminating hiding spots and making it challenging for them to enter your premises undetected. Place lights next to entry points, pathways, and other vulnerable areas.
- Maintain landscaping:
Keeping your landscape in good condition is crucial for reducing hiding spots and the risk of unauthorized entry. Trim bushes, shrubs, and trees near the house to remove hiding places for intruders. Also, check that vegetation doesn’t hinder visibility from the neighboring properties.
- Install quality locks:
High-quality locks offer an extra degree of protection for your home. Choose bump-proof and pick-resistant locks that can withstand manipulation and forced entry attempts. High-grade locks provide unmatched peace of mind and enhance your property’s security.
- Install window coverings:
Curtains or blinds offer privacy and keep outsiders from peeping into your home. By restricting visibility from the outside, you minimize the possibility of intruders scouting for targets or assessing vulnerabilities. Look for window coverings that offer both security and visual appeal.
- Lighting timers:
Using timers for lights, TVs, or radios can give the impression that you’re home when you’re not around. Set timers to switch on and off at different times to replicate a typical household activity. This helps prevent burglary by creating the illusion of occupancy.
- Build strong relationships with neighbors:
A strong sense of community is great. Build a strong relationship with your neighbors and create trust. Having a neighbor, you can depend on to monitor your home when you’re not around.
It would also help to develop positive ties with local law enforcement agencies and participate in community crime prevention efforts. Engage with neighbors, participate in community meetings, and work together on ways to improve security and foster a safe environment for all.
Your home is your castle, but if there are considerable breaches in your home security, that fortress will be vulnerable. Home security mistakes like hiding keys outside, installing static lights, leaving packaging by the curb, and posting travel experiences on social media can render your home vulnerable to burglars.
Addressing these vulnerabilities can reduce security breaches and create safer environments for you and your family.