Labor Day weekend marks the official end of summer and more Holidays are right around the corner. It is also a time when all of us unknowingly do things that attract burglars. Here are some security tips to protect you, your family, and your possessions:
1. The easiest way for a burglar to break in to your home is to get to your car first. If you are equipped with a built-in garage door opener, disable it and go back to the old-fashioned opener that you can remove when you are not in the car. Treat the garage door opener like a credit card.
2. Your navigation system probably has a "home" and "work" button. This is the first thing the burglar uses when he steals your car while you are at work or away shopping. Once you come out of the mall and notice that your car has been stolen, you may not be aware that the bad guy used your navigation (or vehicle registration) to go to your home and clean you out.
You were probably car jacked the moment you entered the mall and your possessions fenced before you discovered your car was missing. Your neighbors did not see anything strange since your burglar parked your car in your garage while he stole everything.
3. In my state, it is ok to photo copy your registration and then black out your address. If the police pull you over, they can access your info if they need to. Also, keep your insurance info with you and don't leave it or anything else in the car that reveals your address.
4. In the blink of an eye, you may be picking out a Christmas tree. While you are putting your presents under the tree, your burglar is watching you. You make it so easy because most of the year you keep the blinds shut but during Christmas the windows are wide open so you can proudly display your tree. Why not just put a big sign in your front yard that says "come get your big screen tv here"? You are probably doing that after you celebrate Christmas because you put all the boxes in the front yard for the garbage man. If your new home computer is on your thief's "shopping list" keep him from knowing you just bought it... make sure you take the box to another dumpster away from your home. Chances are the the burglar may just wait a few weeks until you load up your computer with some important data. Then he gets a new computer and your identity that is stored. Password protection? His jail buddy probably did time for hacking into computers. He will find a way around your passwords to get what he wants.
5. Don't put your trash out early if you are going out of town. Most people don't put the trash bins out until the night before unless they are going out of town. Arrange for a trusted neighbor to move your trash bins for you.
6. Don't cancel your paper. Burglars refer their buddies to circulation departments so they can be "notified" when your home is available. Make sure your neighbor picks it up every day. If any brochures are left on your door, make sure your neighbor removes them daily.
7. Many burglars work in teams or in families. The kids crawl through the pet doors to unlock the front door for mom and dad. If your items are not needed, your burglar may be in his own bad guy network. They have a party and trade your stolen stuff for other stolen stuff.
8. If you have moved in recently to a new home, you are the most vulnerable. Your burglar may have already visited your home while it was on the market. He located his favorite target, the master bedroom and wants to see if there is a security system in place. He also wants to know if any doors or windows are not protected. If you live in subdivision where the homes have the same floor plans, the burglar already visited the model and knows everything.
9. If your burglar did prison time, he networked with other burglars to further his "education". You see, burglars treat their jobs like a profession. They plan, they observe, and they prepare. As technology improves, they find more efficient ways to do their jobs. They use cell phones to communicate and they know where you hide the valuables.
10. Consider a home security system. The technology has come a long way and systems are more affordable than ever. Security cameras are great, especially when tied to an alarm system. If your alarm goes off, you can log in to your laptop or blackberry and see what is going on. If you are on the phone with the police during a burglary and you can describe the bad guys, they will have a better chance of catching them. If you decide to add a DVR to your camera system, make sure it is hidden and only use something that cannot be changed once it is recorded. ADT is one of the only companies that use some kind of watermarking on the recordings. The courts allow these types of recordings because the images cannot be modified. Set your DVR on a "loop" so you never miss recording. After a period of time with no problems, the oldest recordings will be erased and recorded over and over with no degrading.
11. If you decide to put in a home security system, you can use my friends and family promo code to get a $200 rebate (call 1-800-699-9238 and use promo code A39289). The only catch is that ADT requires you to spend at least $299 to get the $200 rebate. You may see some mailers from other companies that have "free" offers. If you go with one of these companies, read the fine print first and make sure you will get a fast response time. Also, if you have a service issue, make sure the company you choose is local and has enough service techs in case your system fails.
In closing, I hope all of you have a very happy and safe Labor Day. Be careful when you are using the new technology that is designed to make our lives better. The social web sites can bring families closer together but they can also advertise your vacation schedule to the burglars. Show off your vacation pics after you have returned home safely. It is tempting to post the pics in real time but your burglar may be watching and you don't want to come home and deal with a break-in.
Please share this with your loved ones and email me if you need advice. I give credit for this post to my ADT trainer, Susan, who spent time in prison ministry. I will post more about security down the road but now I need to go to work.
Feel free to comment on this post. Maybe you have an idea about home security that you would like to share. Just post your comment and we will all be safer. God Bless!