In the middle of the night, on June 5, 2002, a 14-year-old girl named Elizabeth Smart was taken from her bedroom at knifepoint. Her kidnapper broke into their home by cutting open a screen of an open window. Smart remained captive until March 12, 2003. Luckily, she was found alive. But her kidnapping could’ve been prevented had that window been closed on the night she was taken.
Sometimes, we think missteps are no big deal. We don’t mind open windows and unlocked doors because we have an “it won’t happen to me” mindset. Sadly, many victims of kidnapping and burglary also thought the same thing. They took their security for granted and paid the price.
Without your direct actions, your security will always be at risk. Here are the bad practices that render your security system useless:
1. You Forget to Lock the Door and Windows
Most burglars don’t use ladders or ropes to break into a house. Instead, they use the front door and slip inside like a house guest. According to Leonard Sipes of the National Crime Prevention Council, most burglars are actually unskilled people, but they succeed because they had easy access to the home. Hence, don’t forget to lock your doors and windows, even in the daytime. This simple deterrent can also save lives.
2. You Don’t Repair Broken Windows Immediately
Delaying repairs of a broken window is practically an open invitation for burglars. This is especially true if you live in a private neighborhood and your backyard is secluded. If you can’t make time to repair a broken window, call a pro. Board up the window temporarily with a sturdy covering while waiting.
3. You Don’t Lock Your Garage Door
Aside from using unlocked doors or windows, burglars often enter through unlocked garage doors as well. If your garage doesn’t even have a door, this is your sign to install one now. If you only have a carport, ensure that all accesses to your home are always locked.
4. You Didn’t Keep a Close Eye on the Repairmen
Burglars aren’t always strangers. They could be the last repairman who fixed an appliance in your house. Of course, not all repairmen are secretly burglars, but don’t trust them too much for your security. Keep an eye on them as they work. If they asked to use your bathroom, check it after they leave your home. Maybe they unlatched the window to use it as an access point for their planned crime.
5. You Leave Obvious Clues When You’re Away
An overflowing mailbox, an unkempt yard, and piles of unpicked newspapers are clear signs that you’re away. If a burglar sees that, they’ll take their chances to rob your home. Next time, have someone make your home look occupied. Ask them to mow the lawn, switch on some lights at night, and collect the mail and newspapers.
6. You Don’t Monitor Your Surveillance Cameras
Surveillance cameras are effective burglar deterrents. But if you don’t monitor your surveillance footage, a burglar could still succeed in robbing your home. While it’s unrealistic to stay tuned to your surveillance footage 24/7, you should be able to access it instantly. Choose a CCTV camera from established retailers like SMS Security, and let them connect the cameras to your smartphone and other screens. That way, you can watch the footage during the peak hours of burglary. If you catch a burglar, you can call the police fast enough.
7. Your Pet Door Doesn’t Have a Lock
Not all burglars are six feet tall and 200 pounds. The lanky ones can fit into your pet door. So avoid assuming that no burglar would inconvenience themselves by squeezing into such a mini door. Remember, any unsecured access point is good enough for them.
8. Your Security Control Pad is Visible
Burglars are familiar with high-tech security systems. If your control pad is installed on a glass door, a burglar can see if it’s set. That allows them to dodge your motion detectors, alarm, and surveillance cameras. Keep your control pad invisible from the outside to reduce a burglar’s confidence.
9. You Overshare on Social Media
When the pandemic is over, the first thing you’ll probably do is go on a vacation. And because you’re so thrilled to be out again, you’d post every detail of your trip on social media. But this can give a burglar a chance to rob your empty home (unless you followed tip number five). Burglars can be one of your followers, too, so choose what you share on social media wisely. Don’t give out the date of your departure and how long you’ll be gone. You don’t want to come home into a ransacked space.
Your home’s security system can only do so much. At the end of the day, it’s you who is responsible for your own security, not electronics. Don’t let anyone in your family be another Elizabeth Smart.