Top Home Security Mistakes to Avoid in 2015

by SafeWise
Many homeowners unknowingly do things that make their home a target for burglars. That could be one reason why four burglaries occur every minute in the U.S. The good news is, tightening up home security isn’t difficult or expensive and can help you reduce your chances of being a target.
We’ve put together this list of the top home security mistakes homeowners make and how to avoid them. We’ll also tell you five things you should do if a burglary occurs in your neighborhood. If you’re ready to improve your home’s security, read on.
Mistake 1. Leaving valuables visible.

An open garage or shed door gives a burglar the chance to see what goodies are stored inside. Power tools, yard maintenance equipment, and bikes are highly sought after by criminals because they are easy to carry away and pawn without being traced.

Security Tip: Keep the door to the garage and shed closed and locked, and never leave items like chainsaws, scooters, or leaf blowers in the yard or driveway.

Mistake 2. Not knowing what they have.

If your home is broken into, one of the first things a police officer and your insurance company will ask is, “What was stolen?” Unfortunately, many homeowners can’t answer that question because they don’t have an accurate list of their valuables or how much they are worth.

Security Tip: Take pictures and write descriptions of valuables, such as jewelry, electronics, guns, and any other expensive or hard to replace items. When possible, serialize items like tools and electronics. This makes it more difficult for the criminal to pawn the items and, if they do, it can make it easier for police to find them. The KnowYourStuff app from the Insurance Information Institute is free and makes it easy to create a home inventory.

Mistake 3. Forgetting to use their monitored home security system.

Homes with active monitored home security systems are 300 percent less likely to be broken into than homes without security systems. Still, some homeowners fail to consistently activate their home security system.

Security Tip: Make activating your security system a habit. To be fully effective, a monitored home security system should be activated every time you leave your home and when you are inside. If you don’t have a monitored home security system, you can install a DIY wireless system in less than an hour. In addition to being affordable and easy to take with you if you move, there are many other benefits of a DIY monitored home security system.
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Mistake 4. Letting shrubs grow.

Overgrown shrubs near the doors and windows of your house are not only unsightly, they can also help a burglar conceal himself while he’s breaking into your home.

Security Tip: Keep the shrubs around the perimeter of your home trimmed below windowsill level. If possible, replace fast growing shrubs with slower growing, thorny bushes, like holly.

Mistake 5. Leaving windows open or unlocked.

We’ve all made the mistake of leaving a window or door open, or forgetting to lock either of these once we’ve shut them. Unfortunately, burglars are more than happy to take advantage of this situation. In fact, nearly one third of burglars enter a home through a door or window that’s been left open or unlocked.

Security Tip: Periodically check every door and window of your home to ensure they are closed completely and locked. Replace locks that are worn or not working properly and reinforce sliding glass doors with a security bar or one inch wooden dowel. If you have a monitored home security system, make sure to place sensors on all doors and windows, even those on the second story of your home. An estimated two percent of burglars gain entry to a home through a second story opening.

Mistake 6. Telling everyone they’re going out of town.

Publicizing your upcoming vacation on social media is a mistake many homeowners make. In fact, it’s a bad idea to tell anyone, other than those who need to know, that your house is going to be vacant. From the maintenance worker to the cashier at the grocery store, you never know who has a second career as a burglar.

Security Tip: Resist the urge to talk about your vacation plans in public and arrange for someone to look after your home while you’re gone. Have this person bring in newspapers, mail, and trashcans. You’ll also want to keep the yard kept up and use timers on lights inside the house to make it appear as if your home is occupied.
Mistake 6. Hiding valuables in obvious locations.

If your valuables are in the master bedroom sock drawer, you’re making a common security mistake. After breaking in, the first place a burglar usually goes is to the master bedroom. Once there, the first targets are the dresser drawers, under the mattress, and in the nightstand.

Security Tip: Get creative with where you hide your valuables. Try using a hollow book, stuffed animal, or even an empty box of cereal. And don’t forget to secure sensitive paperwork with personal information a burglar could steal to assume your identity. It’s best to keep paperwork in a safe that’s bolted to the ground, and always use a paper shredder for paperwork you don’t need.

Mistake 7. Not keeping up to date on local crime.

Many homeowners feel their neighborhood is safe, so they don’t keep up on local crime. But that’s just what the criminal wants.

Security Tip: Use an app to stay in the loop about local crime. Apps like CrimeMapping, CrimeReports and other crime reporting websites can tell you what crime is happening in your neighborhood and send you a text alert when crime occurs.
6 Things You Should Do if There’s a Burglary in Your Neighborhood.

1. Join, or form, a Neighborhood Watch program (

2. Report suspicious activity to law enforcement immediately, and make your Neighborhood Watch block captain aware of the situation.
3. Make sure the exterior lights on your home are working properly. If possible, install motion activated security cameras at the entrances to your home. Some monitored home security systems will alert you via text when the camera records activity.

4. Keep curtains closed so a burglar can’t peer into your home and see your valuables.
Put signs out front and in the back.
5. Take a look at the home security signs in your yard. Are they well dispersed and easy to read? If a burglar approached your home from the rear, would he see a sign?
Find the perfect system for your home's needs
Remedy these everyday home security mistakes and, if you don’t have one already, beef up your home’s defense with a monitored home security system. Use a system finder ( or security system comparison tool to help you find a system that meets your needs and budget. It won’t be long before you have the most secure home on the block.
6. Be selective when it comes to hiring people to do work on or inside of your home. Use a website like, where you can get inspired by home projects your neighbors have completed, see what home projects will cost, and find the service professionals your neighbors and friends recommend.
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  • Kyle Wood Kyle Wood on Jun 07, 2016
    Home security systems have been around now for a while, and while many new names have entered the market, according to the 3 names that are still the most reliable are Frontpoint, Protect America, and ADT. When it comes down to the amount of services offered, and the quality of those services, both of these companies are at the top of the game.

  • Jennifer Williams Jennifer Williams on Jun 29, 2016
    Great tips! We could all be a little more careful when it comes to security for our homes and family. There is a lot of helpful technology out there to deter burglars such as lighting controls and security cameras to help us have piece of mind.