Every week I’m out in my neighborhood running. No, sorry that is not true. I walk. There I said it. I hope you’re happy. When I walk I naturally look at my neighbors homes. I’m sure you do the same in your neighborhood when you are training for your “marathon”. As I go, I notice certain things that I believe might cause a home to have a higher risk of being targeted for crime. Most are small things that don’t raise much concern. But then you see something so outrageous that it nearly makes your eyes bleed.
So here are 5 security tips for your yard from The Secure Dad.
Home of a Varsity Cheerleader Yard Signs - No! No! No! No! I didn’t know this was actually a thing until I saw one. There are parents who actually put signs in their yards that point out that a cheerleader lives in their home, including a picture! First off let me acknowledge what the sign was intended to show how proud this young lady's parents are of her. Great, now let’s talk about the unintended consequences.
Advertising that you have a young, high school aged female in your home is not a good thing. Now creeps know where they can find their next fixation and rapists get a new target. No this is not going too far. Consider this, you don’t have a yard sign telling strangers you have a Les Paul guitar and 5,000 worth of jewelry in your home do you? Why not? Because someone might break into your home and steal it. The same applies for your children. Don’t tempt evil to enter your home.
Key Hiders - Our next security tip for your yard is just asking for trouble. Despite the discrete label on the package, key hiders are often easy to spot. All it takes is a quick kick to discover a key to your front door. My favorite is the acorn that is split down the middle that screams that it is hollow and opens up. And don’t hide a key under the doormat. Criminals know that trick too. Don’t make it this easy to break into your home.
Security Company Sign - This one will surprise some folks. One of the cool things about getting a high tech security system is the awesome yard sign you stick in the flower bed. You get to show your neighbors that you have a new toy and the alarm company gets free advertising. But there are arguments for and against these yard signs. I’ve heard police tell me that a yard sign might sway an individual who is on the fence about robbing your home. The sign might be that last piece of information that keeps him walking by instead of breaking in. This is a good point that is not to be ignored. However, I think that a person on the fence about robbing a home will flee when they are surprised by the sound of your alarm.
Conversely, I’ve had a police officer tell me to NEVER put one of these signs in your yard because you can be fooled into giving away your code word. A scammer simply calls you in the dead of night in a panic pretending to be your alarm company. (Because you’ve provided them the name of the company with your yard sign.) It goes something like this:
Scammer: This is Terry at First Alert Security, we’ve got a distress call from your residence. Are you okay?
Homeowner [Dazed from waking up]: Um… The alarm is not going off here.
Scammer: Who am I speaking with?
Mr. Smith: I’m Anthony Smith, the homeowner.
Scammer: Right, we got a distress call from your interface system Mr. Smith. Did someone press the distress button?
Mr. Smith: Uh no.
Scammer: Well Mr. Smith if you are okay then we need to turn this alarm off. I can easily take care of this for you. If you can just tell me your code word I’ll turn it off from my station.
Mr. Smith: Okay great the codeword is bacon.
Scammer: Ok, thank you Mr. Smith. That seems to have settled everything down. Thanks for taking my call. Sorry this for the false alarm.
Mr. Smith: Yes, thank you.
Now Mr. Smith has given away his security codeword so that the scammers can break into his home and give the real codeword to the real security company. The security company won’t call the police if the real code word and homeowner’s name is given.
Having a security yard sign can go both ways. You need to determine which is best for you.
Too Much Mail - Nothing screams I’m away from home like mail stacked up in the mail box and newspapers littering the yard. These are obvious signs that no one is looking after the home and burglars are free to come back when it is convenient for them. It’s pretty easy to have your mail held for a few days when you go on vacation. Just go to this link and start the process with USPS.
Unkempt Yard - I really love using the word unkempt. Our final security tip for your yard is not creating unintended hiding places for criminals. Tall shrubs can hide one or more attackers as they wait for you to pull into your driveway. Also they can be a hiding place for burglars to look into your windows to see if you are home or not. It’s best to keep your yard looking nice and secure.