A Burglar’s View of Seven Common Homeowner Mistakes

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A lot more research has been done on how burglars think, and what exactly leads them to target your home, vs. the one next door. For instance, Rutgers University published a study that concluded a home with a monitored alarm system is only one third as likely to be burglarized as the neighbor without a system. That’s a powerful incentive to shop for home security right away.

More Great Insight

Now some additional work has been done through surveys of convicted burglars, so that we can all learn more about how intruders operate. I posted on this about this topic not long ago, and have a great update to share. This latest article comes from BrightNest, a consumer information site powered by Angie’s List. In it, BrightNest shares the results of some Q&A’s with the bad guys, and the results are illuminating.

The chance to pick a burglar’s brain could certainly give you some ideas for home security upgrades, but it’s not a very common opportunity. So, we created some fictional burglar monologues (based on real research). Listen up, because over two million burglaries occur each year in the United States (one every 15 seconds)! Here are a few things your neighborhood thief doesn’t want you to know. If you’re already convinced that your home could use some extra security, here are seven effective ways to protect your house:

1. Ladders Are Awesome

Every time I see a ladder hiding behind a shed or leaning against a house, my heart does a little jig. Do you know how easy it is to crawl through a second-story window with a ladder? Plus, you probably aren’t stressed about locking your second-story window when your front door is dead-bolted.

Takeaway: Keep all of your windows and doors locked tight when you’re out of the house, and hide the ladder in your garage or in a shed when it’s not in use!

2. Your Trash Reads Like a Catalog

Where did your brand-new flat screen’s box go? That’s right – it went in the trash. So I can dig through your trash and find out exactly what’s in your house. It’s easy as pie to know which homes to hit up – especially around the holidays!

Takeaway: Never leave boxes of expensive items on the curb. If possible, take them directly to a trash center.

3. Newspaper Piles Are a Dead Giveaway

Who lets newspapers pile up and their mailbox overflow? People on vacay, that’s who. A house that’s obviously empty is a house I’m going to think pretty seriously about robbing.

Takeaway: Before you leave for vacation, call the post office and ask to them to hold your mail during the dates that you’re away. You’ll be able to pick it up when you’re back in town. If you enjoy cracking open a newspaper in the morning and have The Times delivered every day, call the paper and have it halted while you’re gone.

4. Untrimmed Bushes and Dark Areas Are Perfect Hiding Spots

The more overgrown your bushes are, the more likely I’ll want to hide in them – especially if they’re near windows! No motion detectors to set off exterior lights? Even better! That way, I can case your home and you won’t notice me.

Takeaway: Make sure your bushes and trees are neatly trimmed so they don’t double as hiding spots! It may also be worth installing outdoor motion detector lights near exterior doors and windows for some added security.

5. Nothing Beats an Alarm System With a View

Whether it’s through a window or from a reflection, I really love being able to see your alarm system. That way, I can tell if it’s armed and know exactly what I’m getting myself into. You’d be surprised how many mirrors have helped me out!

Takeaway: If your alarm system is visible through a window, make sure you use blinds or shades to cover it up when you leave or go to sleep. If it’s noticeable in a mirror’s reflection, move that mirror!

6. Burglars Use Facebook, Too

When you brag about your awesome trip to Cancun on Facebook, I may not like your status, but I definitely like the fact that I know your house is empty!

Takeaway: It’s tempting to post images of your amazing trip in real time, or update your status about how much fun you’re having in a foreign country, but it’s safer to wait until after you’ve returned home.

7. Dark Houses Attract Bad People

If a house’s lights are off for several days in a row, it’s a dead giveaway that people aren’t home. I like to give it a few days just in case, but if no lights come on, I get ready to roll!

Takeaway: To make your house seem lived in, install a timer in some rooms that will turn lights on and off during different times of the day. Burglars know that it’s common to leave lights on, or they will be more cautious if they see changing lights. If you need to buy a timer, we like this 7-day random vacation timer by GE (it’s less than $20).

As you might expect, I really like #5, since it makes reference to having an alarm system! And when the burglar does decide that your home is the one, only a monitored alarm system has the potential to result in the police being dispatched to your home as soon as possible.

More Timely Home Security Advice

FrontPoint has its own list of Top 10 Home Security Tips – and they are certainly worth a read. But let’s not forget that there are several clear advantages with today’s fully featured system: round-the-clock fire and environmental monitoring, remote control of arming and disarming, text and email notifications, free mobile apps, video services, and even remote control of lights, locks, and thermostats. Companies like FrontPoint sell the latest technology along with peace of mind, to provide both protection and connectivity: these systems have evolved way beyond the standard intrusion detection offered by most systems in use today.

That being said, with a burglary taking place every 14 seconds in the US, we really do need to start with intrusion protection, provided by a monitored home alarm system – especially one with safer cellular monitoring. FrontPoint specializes in these systems: as the leader in wireless home security, and the #1 ranked alarm company in the US, that’s our commitment. You can even set up your FrontPoint system yourself, in about half an hour, and move it when you move. FrontPoint systems are safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat – even for the most experienced burglar.

Comments (17)

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  1. Angelica

    This is why installing a good home security system is a must today. Great tips! You’re right about #6. Many were already victimized because of their updated “check-ins” on Facebook. Same thing with photos “with locations”. I guess people should start keeping some things private from Facebook.. or atleast wait until they get home before uploading their “out-of-town” photos.

  2. Gery

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful tips! extremely useful way to look! we recently got some Security Services Installation in Melbourne done & we feel more confident about our premises now!

    • Gilbert Cho

      Some of the best home security tips come from ex-burglars thanks to their firsthand experience, so we’re glad you found these to be useful! And we’re happy to hear you have peace of mind, Gery! We wish you the best from across the pond.

  3. Charlie W

    Nice article. I would like to offer an idea that addresses Number 7 (Dark Houses) and your Takeaway. You recommend buying a timer for each lamp. I do that now, but it means setting each timer when we go away and if there’s a power outage, those timers are set to the wrong time. But I have a solution. Read on.

    FrontPoint should allow users to create an event-triggered rule that allows us to turn on lights automatically when the alarm is set to Alarm Away. Yep, that does’t exist right now. But it should. We wouldn’t need a separate timer for each lamp ever again!

    Here’s what it would look like:

    When this event occurs:
    Panel is Armed Away
    Select all lights
    On all days
    Perform these actions
    First Turn On at Sunset
    Then Turn Off at 11:00pm

    How cool would this be? The lights would come on and the house would be more protected. There are so many other rule/schedule options available, one more like this should be offered.

    When I first read about FrontPoint and the ability to control lights, I was very excited to implement a rule like the one I suggest. But it wasn’t available! So please, FrontPoint, make something like this possible. I’m sure there are others out there who would love to utilize a rule like this and keep their homes safer while away.

    Thanks. By the way, I love the system we have – very easy to use and the cell connection is great. All it needs is this new rule!

    • Jamie Botzer

      Great feedback, Charlie! I’m happy to share that this is already a function of your FrontPoint system and can be set up through your MyFrontPoint.com account. I’m going to have a member of our Customer Support team contact you to help set this up, because it is a great feature. And, like you mentioned, it will help keep your home more protected. Thanks for reaching out!

      • Charlie W

        Hi Jamie,

        Well, what I’m suggesting is not quite possible. I spoke on the phone to a security rep and we talked more about what I am suggesting. He said he would forward my idea along. So I hope the folks can figure out how to add this rule.

        What a person can do now is, if Armed Away is set, have the lights come on for a certain length of time, not at a specific time.

        I would like the system, only if Armed Away, to turn on the lights at a certain time and off at a certain time.

        Thanks for the response. Charlie

        • Jamie Botzer

          Thanks for the update, Charlie. I’m glad you were able to talk to someone, but am sorry that you weren’t able to do exactly what you wanted. Your feedback is extremely valuable, and it’s how we continue to make our product better. Keep the suggestions coming!

  4. Lynn Carnes

    For item 3 (mail and newspaper delivery), I think it is better to have a trusted neighbor get these for you. Calling the post office and newspaper carrier tells people that you don’t necessarily know that you will be gone and for how long.

    • Jamie Botzer

      Great tip, Lynn! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Rose

    Lots of tips to remember for those taking a Spring Break trip. Thanks for helping us get to know the enemy :)

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Rose – You are most welcome.

  6. Rose

    Lots of tips to remember for those taking a Spring Break trip. Thanks for helping us get to know the enemy :)

  7. mary nilan

    I have this system and love it-Have had others in the past, but this is the best-I feel very secure with this in place & customer service is great

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Mary-

      Thanks very much for your vote of confidence in FrontPoint! There is nothing that means more to us than having satisfied customers like you who are willing to pass on their good stories about FrontPoint to others. We feel that referrals and actual user comments constitute the most powerful form of advertising that exists – and we’re happy to say that we have the best online reputation of any nationwide alarm company, thanks to folks like you. Thanks again!

  8. mary nilan

    I have this system and love it-Have had others in the past, but this is the best-I feel very secure with this in place & customer service is great

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Mary-

      Thanks very much for your vote of confidence in FrontPoint! There is nothing that means more to us than having satisfied customers like you who are willing to pass on their good stories about FrontPoint to others. We feel that referrals and actual user comments constitute the most powerful form of advertising that exists – and we’re happy to say that we have the best online reputation of any nationwide alarm company, thanks to folks like you. Thanks again!

  9. Jamie Botzer

    Thanks for the update, Charlie. I’m glad you were able to talk to someone, but am sorry that you weren’t able to do exactly what you wanted. Your feedback is extremely valuable, and it’s how we continue to make our product better. Keep the suggestions coming!

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