14 Things Home Security Experts Never Do in Their Own Homes
An alarm system isn't enough. If you're making any of these security mistakes, experts say that your home is at risk for a break-in.
Taking the right safety precautions
Keeping your home secure is more than a matter of simply installing a home security system. While having an alarm and camera can help to deter burglars, nothing is foolproof and you still need to be vigilant. The thing is, many people don't realize that they're putting their safety at risk every day by making some very common mistakes. Here's what top security experts never do in their own homes—and you shouldn't either. And while you're beefing up your security knowledge, check out these additional safety tips that could save your home from a break-in.
They never leave the back door open
It's easy to get lulled into a false sense of security, especially when you live in a "safe" neighborhood. But no matter where you live, never leave the back door open—ever. Nope, not even for house cleaners or other service people like dog walkers who you know are coming by shortly. "You might never have a breach, but if anyone ever wandered into your yard, you don't want to hand them entrance to your home," says Mitchell Klein, executive director of the Z-Wave Alliance. Believe it or not, daytime is actually the most common time for burglaries.
They never hide a key outside
While hiding a key somewhere outside sounds like a good idea for workers who need to get in or for those times when you get locked out, it isn't. Why? Burglars will be looking for your not-so-secret hiding spot—like under the mat and in an obviously fake rock in your flower beds, says Klein, as well as in these other common spots. Instead, use technology to your advantage. Gabe Tuner of Security Baron suggests using a smart lock that has temporary passcode capability as an alternative.
They never give out security-system passcodes
It's best to keep mum on your security-system passcodes, even if you trust the person you're giving it to, says Klein. The one exception to this rule is if your system allows you to set up a temporary code that automatically expires. "Smart home security apps make this easier to do nowadays," he says. If that isn't possible, he suggests changing the code after the person has used it. If you're in the market for an upgrade, these are the best home security systems, according to experts.
They never share vacation photos on social media while they're away
It might be tempting to share all of those special moments as they happen, but it isn't the smartest idea if you want to keep your home as safe as possible. Why? You're literally announcing that you're away and that you've left your home unattended. "Wait until you are home to share pictures and memories from your adventure," recommends Klein.
They never let mail or newspapers pile up
Packages and piles of papers are a clear indication to burglars that you aren't home. "If you don't have anyone who can go by to pick them up, put a hold on them at the post office," advises Klein. "This is an easy solution that saves a lot of hassle and can protect your home from potential intruders looking for clues of a vacant home." Here are 12 other everyday things that pose huge security risks.
They never forget to enable the alarm
Louis Wood of Defend It Yourself says he's seen dozens of people fall victim to this easy mistake. "Do not leave your house without turning on your alarm, even for a quick trip to the grocery store," he says. "We have had many customers get robbed [because] they simply hadn't armed their system. Make sure you get in the habit of arming your alarm system every time you leave the home for any reason." Looking for a new home security system? Here's how to find the best one.
They never leave doors or windows unlocked
According to Turner, most burglars break in through unlocked doors or windows. That's right: They don't even have to go through the trouble of breaking anything during the break-in because you've essentially invited them in. Regardless of the other safety precautions, you take in your home, don't miss this simple one. "Even though I have entry, motion, and glass-break sensors to alert me of activity, I still don't want to make it easier for burglars to enter my home," says Turner. Doing a quick check every time you leave a room, or before you go out, can solve this problem. While thieves will certainly swipe your valuables, they may also steal these 12 weird things.
They never leave the lights on or off all the time
No one leaves lights on or off all of the time, yet many people think that getting in the habit of doing these things makes their home more secure. Instead, says Turner, this can make you appear as if you aren't home, as well as waste electricity and run up your bill.
A better idea? Using a smart light system. Rupert Pople, founder of Your Smart Home Guide, recommends a multi-user geofencing formula that tracks the user's locations and mimics the presence of someone being home. "If you go away, especially for an extended period of time, it can be easy to notice that someone isn't there, so a formula is essential," Pople explains. "Going one step further, Philips Hue has a TV mimicking formula, which uses a smart light that produces randomized light flickering that seems just like a TV is on. This works best when the curtains are closed." Here are 15 more smart devices that are worth every penny.
They never have an address sign that can't be spotted easily
If you have a break-in or other emergency, you want responders to find you as fast as possible. "If there's an emergency and I need an ambulance, the police, or the fire department, I want them to be able to find my home easily," says Turner. "That's why I have a reflective, prominent address sign for visibility throughout the day and night."