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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Home Security is Nothing to Sneeze At

By Catherine Powell

image courtesy of flickr
As it so happens, I’ve been spending much of the past two weeks lying flat on my back staring up at the ceiling.  That’s what happens when you come down with a bad head cold or catch the flu.  While I’ve been lying in an over-the-counter drug stupor blowing my nose endlessly while watching more TV than I can stand, it also gave me the time to think about my home’s security.  Every afternoon as I hear the postal carrier drop the mail into the box outside my front door with a clank, I pause to think of just how easy it would be for a burglar to try to jimmy the door or any of my windows.  While I consider my home to be burglar-resistant, it never hurts to put oneself in a thief’s shoes to assess just how impregnable your home really is.

It takes a thief to catch a thief.

While few people live in a bunker, most don’t take home security all that seriously until they come home to discover that their home has been hit.  Being an insurance broker, I can’t tell you how many times a homeowner has started a conversation by stating, “We always thought our home was secure…until we came home last night.”  That being said, how many homeowners actually take the time to assess their home while looking for security loopholes that a wily burglar could use to breach its sanctity.  Below are a few things to consider:

Image courtesy of Pixabay
1.      Does your doormat say it all? – Most front and back doors are little more than welcome mats to burglars.  It takes a thief less than a minute to exploit most exterior doors.  They will either kick the door in, break a window and unlock the door, or they will use a crowbar (otherwise known as a universal key) to pop the lock or pry off the hinges.  Even a deadbolt isn’t always enough of a deterrent to an accomplished thief.  If your exterior doors are made of wood and the locks aren’t guarded, gaining entry to your home is child’s play to an experienced burglar.    Even worse are sliding doors which don’t even have to be unlocked to be opened.  Unless the door is equipped with a track lock, the same pry-bar can be used to pop the slider right off its track.

2.      Window woes – The eyes are said to be the windows to the soul.  But your windows can allow burglars to keep their eyes on you.  Since most thieves won’t try to break into your home while you are there, they like to keep tabs on potential victims to determine their schedules.  Even with the curtains drawn, thieves can determine most homeowner’s routines by simply observing them come and go or by noting when the lights come on and when the home is in complete darkness.  When it comes to defeating most windows, a pry-bar is usually sufficient to spring the lock and pop the sash.

3.      Social overload – What’s even worse is many homeowners make it easy for thieves to know their schedules simply by observing their social sites.  You’d be surprised at the amount of information a burglar can glean from your social posts.  Not only can they determine where and when you work, but depending on how often you post, they can easily determine when you are due to take your kids to after school events and more.  Even worse, many people post helpful hints to burglars by letting them know their evening social schedules or even when and where they will soon be going on vacation. 

4.      Don’t let your landscaping help a burglar land in your living room. – While hedges and other landscaping are attractive, sometimes what they can best attract are thieves who wish to use them to conceal their presence. 

Image courtesy of flickr
5.      Does an alarm mean your home is safe? – Just because your home has a burglar alarm doesn’t mean that will necessarily deter thieves.  Most alarm systems only protect doors and ground floor windows.  As any second-story man will tell you, if your upstairs windows aren’t alarmed, your alarm system can easily be sidestepped.  Even homes equipped with first floor motion detectors won’t stop a second-story man from climbing into your upstairs bedroom or bathroom to rifle the upstairs for valuables. 

Image courtesy of Pixabay
6.      Doggie downer – The reason most people keep a dog is for home security.  While most dogs will bark like mad at the first sign of an intruder, this doesn’t always deter thieves.  Since most thieves like to burgle your home while you are away, a barking dog doesn’t bother them.  That’s because getting your dog out of the way can be as easy as throwing it a dog treat only to your pet into an unoccupied room or the garage. 

7.      How smart is your smart-home? – If your home is equipped with leading edge home automation systems, you need to make sure they come complete with anti-hacking software.  Especially if you install smart locks and/or Wi-Fi-enabled security systems or cameras, there are hackers out there who will only be too happy to test your home security while you are away. 

8.      How do you win a rigged game? – Once most homeowners realize how many ways a sophisticated burglar can breach the security of their home, they start to wonder how they can win a game that seems rigged in their opponent’s favor.  The best way to beat a man at his own game is not to play by their rules.

a.       Since windows and doors are used 99% of the time to breach a home’s security, your first line of defense is to make a thief’s harder.  To start off with, consult a replacement window and door expert to find out how secure your windows and doors really are.  You may find that by spending a few hundred dollars to beef up your doors, locks and door-frames can make a thief pass your home by only to find an easier target.  The same goes with your home’s windows.
b.      Consider removing hedges and other front and backyard hidey holes for burglars.  It also wouldn’t hurt to install motion-sensor lights that come on anytime someone nears your home.
c.       While dogs and burglar alarms can act as a deterrent to thieves, even better are cameras that can catch a thief in the act.  No burglar wants to see their face on the 6-o’clock news or in the hands of the cops.  Modern wireless cameras can even be equipped with motion sensors, low-light imaging and cloud-based video storage which means even if the cameras are damaged or destroyed, the video is securely saved off-site.
d.      If you use 21-st Century technology, make sure you realize it’s vulnerabilities.  This means ensuring your smart devices and home wireless systems are protected with the latest security software.  It also means limiting the amount of personal information you post online.

While nobody wants to live in a bunker, with the array of low-cost security devices available on the market today means you don’t have to barricade your home to keep it secure.  Take it from someone who has spent the past couple weeks pondering the possibilities; Home security is nothing to sneeze at.

Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida.  To find out more about saving money on your auto insurance, check out her website at


  1. Take 10-minutes to walk around your home and you'll be surprised at how many ways a burglar can get in without too much trouble.

  2. This is excellent advice for any homeowner who want to protect their home and possessions from burglar.


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