You’ve put the time, money and effort into designing your dream house, so it makes sense to secure it with monitored home security systems, fences, flood lights and even a wireless home security camera system, right? For the most part, yes. But there are several common security mistakes designers and planners make that not only leave your house unprotected — but also can make your home more vulnerable. Here’s what to watch out for.
- Confusing privacy with safety. Yes, that 10-foot fence keeps the kids in, a stranger’s prying eyes out and may even make a good neighbor, but it may also provide cover for a prowler. If you give thieves a way to stay hidden from watchful neighbors or patrolling cops, the crooks will take advantage of it — and you. The same goes for bushes near your windows. While the landscaping may look great from outside, it also offers cover for a prowler.
First, if you’re worried about window-entry protect your home with strong locks and wireless glass break detectors that are connected to your home security system. Also check to make sure the layout of your yard doesn’t lend itself to burglars. Keep gates and doorways well-lit and consider reinforcing them. Don’t plant dense bushes and shrubbery around your windows and make sure you maintain whatever you do plant. Keep landscaping height at a level where an adult cannot easily hide.
- Installing residential home security systems in plain sight. This may seem counterintuitive, because you want to show burglars that your home is protected to prevent crimes of convenience, but sometimes putting everything on display can backfire. Yes, you do want to proudly display your monitored home security system’s placard on your front lawn, but you don’t want your home security system keypad to be viewable from the street.
When thieves have a line of sight to the “brain” of your home security system, they can see if it’s armed before they enter, or even make a pre-entry plan to disarm your system before the alarm goes off. This is especially true for nighttime break-ins, when a flashing LED light can indicate whether you forgot to arm your system before you went to bed. Don’t give them that advantage — install your keypad (and any indicator lights) out of view from your windows and in an area only your family will know about.
- Giving prowlers shadows to hide in. Outdoor lighting is a common deterrent for burglaries. That’s because we equate daylight with safety. But one university study showed that only about 16% of burglaries take place between 10 P.M. and 6 a.m. The majority of break-ins happen during the daylight, with the most taking place between noon and 4 P.M.
That means lighting alone may not be the best theft-deterrent. Plus, they can also create an unintended consequence — shadows. Shadows provide even more cover for anyone lurking near your home. Avoid offering shaded areas for shady people by installing motion detector lights from different angles. For example, if a light on your garage casts a shadow onto another part of your lawn, install a motion-detecting light that would illuminate the shadowed area were someone to stand in it. For actual protection that goes beyond a deterrent, consider installing an outdoor camera hooked up to your monitored home security system.
- Designing your in-home safety around your bedroom. In a study where professional burglars were placed in a virtual burglary simulation, every single bandit made a beeline for the bedrooms. They paid no attention to the downstairs items where bulkier TVs and other electronics are ripe for the pickings as people sleep upstairs, unaware. Instead, they ventured into the sleeping quarters and made off with cash, jewelry and anything else of value that they could fit into their pockets. The reason given? To draw less attention as they left the home.
If you’re still in the planning and design phase of your home, consider alternative locations for a wall safe protected by vibration sensors and a monitored home security system, or a safe that is bolted to the floor. Bedrooms are the obvious first choice for criminals, so putting your valuables in less common places might be a smart move. Additionally, if you have items that are irreplaceable, consider keeping them in your local bank’s safety deposit box.
- Not installing a monitored home security system. According to the FBI there was a burglary every 43 seconds in the United States last year, with an average loss of $2,799 per offense. Bottom line: installing a home security system can save you money.
Whether you’re planning on designing and building the security system directly into your house or going with a post-build installation is another topic for discussion, but strictly by the numbers, it just doesn’t make financial sense to forego a home security system—especially considering one university study showed 83% of burglars admitted they’d check to see if there’s an alarm beforehand and 60% said they would change their mind if there was one installed.
In fact, burglars cited defense measures like a wireless home security camera system and the presence of an alarm system as the top two deterrents that would keep them from targeting a home.
But it’s not just any alarm system that sends fear through the spines of spineless crooks. The systems that burglars are most frightened of are monitored home security systems, not the do-it-yourself doorbell cameras that are popular now. Why? Because monitored home security systems pack a powerful punch: 63% of burglars were afraid of the security or police response that comes with monitored home security systems.
Allison Clark is a senior writer for Brinks Home Security. She enjoys educating others on the benefits of smart home security and using technology to simplify everyday life.