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A Real Eye-Opener: How Secure Is Your Home?

Take our home security quiz and see how prepared you are.

Have you ever thought of analyzing your home’s security from…

Have you ever thought of analyzing your home’s security from a burglar’s perspective?

You might be surprised to find out how secure (or unsecure) your home actually is. You might also be surprised to learn that most burglaries don’t happen under the cover of night when everyone’s asleep, the doors are locked, the blinds are closed, and the lights are off.

Nope, that’s not the case.

Most burglaries occur in broad daylight. Yes, between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. to be exact. You might be saying to yourself that you have a home security system, security camera, video doorbell, lights, and signs, but there are some other aspects you might not know that can help to strengthen your home’s security.

We’re going to help you review your home’s security, from the outside in to give you a better perspective of the steps you can take to protect it.

Go ahead and pull out your phone and open your note-taking app because we’ll be going down a checklist for each area to help you assess how secure your home is. At the end, you can tally up your points to see how well you’re doing.

Front Yard

Front Yard

❓  Did you know? – Burglars give homes with cars in the driveway a second thought.

Can you check any of these off?

  • My yard is tidy and cared for on a regular basis (1 pt.)
  • I keep a car parked in the driveway (1 pt.)
  • I have outdoor lighting/motion-sensing lights (1 pt.)
  • I have an outdoor security camera/video doorbell and it is visible (1 pt.)

Starting at the edge of your yard, we’ll begin our assessment. While it can be oh-so tempting to overlook cutting your grass on a periodical basis or making sure the shrubbery is trimmed and limbs are picked up, please don’t skip out on keeping your yard in order. KGW8 conducted a survey of 86 inmates charged for burglary and found a consensus that burglars are looking for “homes with…overgrown trees or bushes” and homes in remote locations.

What about cars in the driveway?

If you keep a vehicle in your driveway, you’re doing yourself a favor. According to one inmate, a car in the driveway “[was] a sure-fire sign of someone being home” (KGW8). And to take this a step further, make sure you periodically change its position to make it look like someone is home. And if you have a family pooch, that’s definitely a plus.

Will having a dog prevent burglars?

Yes, having a dog can help deter burglars. Particularly, having a large and loud dog will help (KGW8). One inmate said that “dogs [were] a deal breaker for [them]” (KGW8). And one of the key things that some burglars look for when casing a home is if a dog’s even present. So yes, Fido can definitely help. But, what about home security signage?

Will having home security signs make burglars think twice?

In some cases, having a home security system with yard signs and decals can help deter a burglar. We would recommend putting signs and decals in place to let passersby know that your home is being monitored (whether by a provider or yourself). According to the survey from KGW8, burglars had “mixed opinions” about home security yard signs. While for some the signs were a deterrence, others didn’t seem to care. But, what about security cameras?

Will having a security camera deter burglars?

We’ve all probably seen several videos through T.V. or online of bad guys approaching a homeowner’s door. But, you should know that security cameras actually work as deterrence factors to burglars if they are visible. If you don’t have an outdoor security camera or video doorbell camera, it’s time to get one. One inmate from the report recommended that homeowners should “get a camera and make it visible!”

Front Door

Front Door

❓  Did you know? – 34% of burglars break in through the front door.

Can you check any of these off?

  • I have lighting for my front door (1 pt.)
  • I have a smart door lock (1 pt.)
  • I have a video doorbell (1 pt.)

According to Reolink, most burglars make their way into homes through the front door – not the back door (which is actually the 3rd-most popular point-of-entry at 22%). The second-most popular point-of-entry are your first-floor windows at 23%. This means that most burglars have the guts to attempt breaking in through your front door, which you need to make sure is well-secured.

Will having a smart door lock help?

This will depend on your personal habits and what you think is reasonable. We’d highly recommend having a deadbolt lock on your exterior doors to make it harder for burglars to break in. If you’re on the forgetful side about locking your front door or would like to be able to manage and monitor your door remotely, we’d recommend a smart door lock for its features. Another device to consider is a video doorbell.

Should I buy a video doorbell?

If you don’t already have one, a video doorbell gives you the opportunity to see who’s outside without having to go to your door, peek through the blinds, and try to figure out who’s there. One of the most popular brands for video doorbells is Ring, and although the company has had a difficult time recently, we still recommend their products for the measures they’re taking to help bolster users’ security.

Living Room

Living Room

❓  Did you know? – Sounds from your TV or radio can help keep burglars at bay.

Can you check any of these off?

  • I have a home security system (1 pt.)
  • I have an indoor security camera (1 pt.)
  • I use a smart assistant in my home (1 pt.)

Yes, it’s true. Sounds from your TV or radio will make burglars think that someone’s home and deter them from breaking in. However, for many families, leaving the TV or radio on during the day isn’t commonplace, so is there another option? Yes, there is – a smart speaker. Smart home devices with Amazon Alexa can help you protect your home through skills. The Alexa Burglar Deterrent skill will play ambient noise and can adjust the noises played according to the time of day.

Is a home security system worth it?

From our 2019 Home Security Report, we found that about 73% of participants said that their home security system or products made them feel safe. Ultimately, we feel that given the happenings in our society today, having a security system is worth it. Professional monitoring enhances your safety by having a team ready to respond to an emergency around the clock in the event your alarm is triggered.

Do lights deter burglars?

Interestingly, the jury’s still out on this one. KGW8’s report said there were mixed answers as some burglars agreed that lights were a deterrent, while one inmate said that lights made a home “attractive”. We think that this may have something to do with how homeowners are using their lights.

If a burglar can determine when you normally turn your lights on and off, and they know the times you’re home and when you’re really not, this can be a red flag. That’s why combining deterrence strategies is a good idea. Smart lights are helpful, but you’ll need to try to change up the times you have your lights come on and off.

Should I buy an indoor security camera?

We think an indoor security camera is a good device to have. For one, this allows you to record footage of your home’s interior, and in the unfortunate event of an intruder, you’ll be able to review the footage (and have the police review it too) to help identify the individual. There are a number of wireless indoor cameras available on the market today. You can also use an indoor camera to let intruders know they’ve been caught and potentially scare them away.

Study/Office

Study/Office

❓  Did you know? – Burglars don’t only look for physical things, your identity is at risk too.

Can you check any of these off?

  • I don’t keep any computer/website passwords in easy-to-find places (1 pt.)
  • My passwords aren’t easy to figure out (1 pt.)
  • I keep my external hard drives/flash drives in a safe place (1 pt.)
  • I use an identity theft protection service (1 pt.)

Another place that burglars may check is your study or office area. If you have a computer or laptop and keep your passwords in a place where they can easily be found, your identity is at risk as well. Burglars not only look for physical goods like laptops, TVs, and collectible items, they may also try to access any of your personal accounts, and your password could help them “unlock the door”.

If you need to keep any passwords written down, find a safe place for them, and make sure they’re not easy to figure out. If you have any external hard drives, flash drives, and documents with your personal information, you should be careful where you store and place those items as well. Another proactive step to take is using an identity theft protection service to help with monitoring your personal information. One benefit you’ll find with this type of service is insurance and assistance with the recovery process in the event your personal information is compromised.

Garage

Garage

❓  Did you know? – The garage is the last point of entry burglars typically break in – don’t let your guard down yet, though.

Can you check any of these off?

  • I have a garage door controller (1 pt.)
  • I have sensors installed in or near the garage (1 pt.)

Burglars are not as likely to break into your home via your garage (Reolink). It came in last place at 9%, a big drop from the 22% for back door break-ins. That doesn’t mean you can totally relax. Make sure to close it every time you leave home, and add a deadbolt if you have an exterior door connected to your garage.

One way to help with making sure your garage door is closed and open at the right times is by having a garage door controller. Also make sure you have sensors installed in or near your garage if you have a security system. If someone breaks in, your alarm will be triggered, alerting you and your monitoring center (for monitored systems) so the authorities can be notified.

So, How Did You Do?

So, How Did You Do?

Were you able to check off some of our recommendations? Count up your check-marks and review our summaries below to see how well you did.

If you find some opportunities to enhance your home’s security, go ahead and try to put those plans into place. You never know who’s taking an interest in your home, so it’s better to be prepared and make those bad guys think twice.

You’re doing good – keep it up  (9 – 17 pts.)
Nice job! . You’re hitting on some of our top recommendations already. Go you! Take a moment and review a few areas where you can improve your home security.

Let’s work on it a little more  (0 – 8 pts.)
Looks like you could use some help with securing your home. We recommend starting with the basics, and then work your way up. Consider a monitored home security system, security cameras, and smart home devices to improve your home protection.


jalesa-campbell-Square-Sized

Safety and Security Reporter

Jalesa Campbell

Jalesa is one of Safety.com's staff experts on home security, natural disasters, public safety, and family safety. She's been featured on Today.com and elsewhere.