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  • Writer's pictureAndy Murphy

Real Holiday Security Tips from Home Alone

What we can take away about home security from the Home Alone films

One of the more influential movies in my life about home security stems from my love of the movie Home Alone. I’ve talked about this before but since there’s a new Home Alone movie out now, I thought we’d discuss some of the real holiday security tips we can take away from these movies.

Not A Common Criminal

In the original film, the leader of the criminal crew the Wet Bandits is Harry Lime. Harry is fixated on the McAlister home. He tells his partner that this was the home on the street that he wanted to hit. So Harry is a dedicated attacker. He’s going to do whatever it takes to get into that home.

We first meet Harry going above and beyond what the average criminal is going to do, he’s impersonating a police officer in a convincing uniform. This tells us that Harry has skills in stealing uniforms or he was a former cop.

Harry uses social engineering to get Mr. McAlister to spill the beans about where, when, and how his family is flying to France. Harry now has insider knowledge of the family’s whereabouts.

Today social engineering can come in the form of a phone call, email, or social media post. Be careful about who you let know about your holiday travel plans. Don’t assume that everyone on the neighborhood Facebook group is a good person. You never know when someone’s teenager is going to see your post and decide they want to help themselves to your medicine cabinet while you’re gone.

Criminal Homework

Another great scene is when Harry and Marv are in their van at night and Harry points out all of the light timers as they come on for each home on the street. Harry has done his homework using open source intelligence and knows the timing for each home. Back then timers were pretty basic, today we have an advantage.

When people travel they tend to overdo it when it comes to light timers. What we need to aim for is to copy our normal lighting patterns for when we are home. If you’re living room lights come on at 4:30 and don’t turn off until 11:30, then that’s the pattern you need to set.

Don’t make it look like Kevin did and have a Michael Jorden cut out on a train and there’s a big party going on because that looks unusual. Lighting your home simply is best.

Take a day or two before you go and note when your lights normally turn on and off. Then copy those patterns so it looks like it’s business as usual in your home. You can use WeMo apps and even a digital assistant to plan your lighting patterns with smart plugs.

Don't Give Away Your Security Codes

In the latest film Home Sweet Home Alone, we meet another family that’s in a hurry to get to the airport. Long story short, the person who is rushing to lock up the house is not the homeowner.

In his hurry, he yells out the alarm code and places the spare key under a planter in view of the man who would later break into the house whose name is Jeff. Not good, right? Jeff now knows the alarm code and the location of the spare key.

Christmas Crime of Opportunity

So what is created here is an opportunity for Jeff to commit a crime. You see in the movie that Jeff tries to do the right thing and be a good man. Because he is a normal guy, he’s not a criminal.

But his life circumstances of losing a job has forced Jeff into a place where he makes a decision to become a criminal. If Jeff hadn’t known the location of the spare key or the alarm code would not have broken into this home.

But a family member gave away valuable information about the home’s security and a good person found it easier to target that home and commit a crime. Jeff wasn’t going to break into any other house on that street, but when he got insider information on the home, it was much easier for him to make the decision to break into that home.

Don’t be the reason that someone finds your home easy to be an easy target.

If nothing else, I hope you see how valuable your personal information and your holiday plans really are. Don’t give the bad guys any sort of advantage when it comes to your home security. The less they know, the safer you are.

Have a wonderful holiday season! Merry Christmas!


Andy Murphy

Andy Murphy founded The Secure Dad in 2016 with the aspiration to help families live safer, happier lives. What started as a personal blog about family safety has turned into an award-winning podcast, an Amazon best-selling book, and online courses. He focuses his efforts in the areas of home security, situational awareness, and online safety.


Andy is a husband and father. His interests include coaching youth basketball, hiking, and trying to figure out his 3D printer.

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