Making your home more secure

Published 11:05 am Monday, July 18, 2011

By WAYNE CURTIS / Guest Columnist

While we may not realize it, many of us make our homes easy targets for criminals. This may come as a surprise to you, but law enforcement personnel, security experts and former criminals attest to this fact.

Keep in mind that security issues become especially critical during the summer vacation season. As the summer unfolds, many people leave home for extended periods. Let’s review some missteps that can make your home vulnerable to security breaches.

For starters, individuals make it a simple matter for criminals by forgetting to lock their doors. All of us probably are guilty of this infraction from time to time. We get in a hurry to leave in the morning and forget to make sure outside doors are locked.

Others forget to turn on their home alarm systems. While alarm systems can help deter criminals, surveys reveal that over 40 percent of people who have them occasionally forget to turn them on when they are away from home.

Another mistake many homeowners make is obscuring their windows and doors with tall shrubs or overgrown hedges. They provide excellent hiding places for burglars.

Some individuals inadvertently “advertise” they are on vacation, inviting break-ins by criminals. That is, they do nothing to make their houses appear to be occupied.

Security experts advise that you take steps to give your home the appearance of occupancy. This includes stopping newspaper deliveries, having your mail picked up by a neighbor or held by the post office and putting timers on some of the lights inside your home.

Finally, many people do not practice safety with their spare house keys. Placing your keys under a doormat or hiding them elsewhere outside makes your house an inviting target. Criminals know to check such places for keys.

You should remember to keep these common mistakes in mind. And avoiding them can make you and your property more secure.

Wayne Curtis, Ph.D., is on the board of directors of First United Security Bank.  He may be contacted at