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35 Things You Don’t Know You’re Doing That Make Your House a Target for Burglars

These not-so-obvious indicators will make your home a target for thieves.

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trash cansPeter Gudella/Shutterstock

Leaving Trash Visible in Garbage Cans

Setting out the box from your new 60-inch HDTV or high-end gaming console on the curb is basically advertising the fact that those items are in your home. As electronics are the second thing burglars go for (cash is number one), this makes your home an attractive target, according to an article by A Secure Life. So buy a cheap box cutter and invest the 30 seconds it takes to break down large boxes and bundle them together so their labels can’t be seen. Plus, your garbage man will thank you! Find out what else your garbage collector wants you to know.

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Family Handyman

Sometimes Just Living on Your Street

Homes in high-visibility places, like on corner lots, are far less likely to be broken into. There are simply too many potential ways to be seen. But townhomes, houses in the middle of the block, or houses in a cul-de-sac are much better targets. This is especially true if your property backs up to a forest, open lot, or other unguarded area. The trick, according to Secure Life, is to make your house as difficult as possible to access. This means installing high fences and lots of lighting. Learn 13 sneaky things FBI agents do to protect their homes.

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bookingawpixel.com/Shutterstock

Posting Vacation Pics

Forty percent of people admit posting pics while out of town, according to Nationwide. And while putting your vacation pictures online might get you a lot of likes, it also notifies your friends and acquaintances that you’re now far from home, making your house a prime target for anyone with ill intentions or just an opportunistic streak. Instead, make sure your social media profiles aren’t public, and wait to post your beautiful beach selfies until you get home. Here are some other things you should never post on social media for the sake of your own safety and your home’s safety.

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MailboxAndrey_Popov/Shutterstock

Mailbox

It takes two minutes online or on the phone to put a hold on your mail while you’re gone and subvert the number one signal burglars look for: an overflowing porch or mailbox. These are the hiding spots burglars check first.

Save yourself a trip to the mailbox by installing an alert system like this.

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white house with front porch exterior landscapingV J Matthew/Shutterstock

Your Yard Gives a Lot of Clues

Love those flowers. That says you have taste…and taste means there are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me wonder what type of gaming system they have. By the way, this is the most common time for burglaries—and it’s not at night.

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mailboxMemoryMan/Shutterstock

Letting Newspapers and Flyers Build Up

Yes, burglars really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And they might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to remove it. Check out these 12 unusual things postal carriers see every day.

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exterior brass door knobKaren Grigoryan/Shutterstock

Not Locking the Door

According to SafeGuardTheWorld, a professional preventative security company, around 30 percent of burglaries involve a burglar entering through an unlocked door. It seems silly to have to say it but people forget to lock the door sometimes and it becomes ripe for the picking. Try these 13 inexpensive ways to theft-proof your home.

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dfh7_shutterstock_19074904 open window brick houseScott Latham/Shutterstock

Leaving a Window Cracked

You might want to keep the house cool and save some money by not running the air conditioning but you’re setting your home up as a target even if the window is left open a crack. Here are 10 sensible ways to save on cooling costs.

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backyard projector screenpockethifi/shutterstock

Having a Wide Open Backyard

A backyard without a fence or one that opens up to a wooded area is prime for burglars to target. It’s relatively easy to move in and out of, plus the woods will make an escape easier. Try some maintenance-free fencing if you feel the need to create a deterrence.

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Dewitt/Shutterstock

Keeping a Window A/C Unit

Window units are great at cooling smaller spaces but they’re also great for thieves to knock out of the way and grab any loot inside a home.

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Money Under the mattress burglar hiding spotMtsyri/Shutterstock

Leaving Expensive Stuff in Sight

It should go without saying but anything of value shouldn’t be left in view from the outside. Burglars will often case a house before breaking in and if your home has valuable items out, the likelihood of it getting stolen just went up. You need to know the 50 places thieves will never look in order to be safe. 

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Carriage house garage doors

Forgetting to Lock the Garage Door

Be sure to lock each garage door, including the one that leads to the backyard because thieves will use any entry point to gain access. Check out how thieves can attack your garage and how to secure it.

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keysMultifacetedGirl/Shutterstock

Leave Spare Keys in Obvious Places

You might to consult this list of obvious hiding places before deciding where to keep a spare key because burglars are definitely going to check the cliche spots. Instead try these secret hiding places for spare keys and other valuables.

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blindsDmitriy Kiryushchenkov/Shutterstock

Forgetting to Keep Up With Appearances

If you normally leave your blinds or drapes open during the day and close them the day you leave for vacation, that could be a calling card for burglars that no one is home. “I recommend a mix of open, partially open, and close,” says Emily Long, safety expert at SafeWise. “Open blinds that provide full views of TVs, computers, and other valuables can tempt burglars, while partially open blinds provide privacy and security as well as let interior light out, giving the illusion that you are home.”

Try one of these tricks with your blinds to keep it cool inside during the summer.

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FH10JUN_509_56_M01 french bulldog in doggy doorPhoto: Courtesy of PetSafe

Leaving an Opening Through the Dog Door

When burglars can’t get in through human entrances to your house, they may try to get in through the animal entrances. Robert Sollars, security expert and creator of robertdsollars.com, knows this all too well. “There are innumerable instances of doors being secured but the burglar coming in through the kitty door,” he advises. “Not all burglars are 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds. They can slither through those openings as well as a snake.” One of the burglaries Nancy Gretzinger experienced was committed in this way. “They came in a medium-small doggie door,” she said. So, pet owners, keep your pet doors secure as well. If worse comes to worst and a burglar does manage to enter your home, make sure your valuables are not in these hiding spots burglars always check first.

Try these 40 pet projects to show your favorite canine or feline some love.

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shutterstock_571822381 winter snow boots in entrywaymacondo/Shutterstock

Leaving Fresh Snow

If it snows while you’re out of town, get a neighbor to create car and foot tracks into the house. Virgin drifts in the driveway are a dead giveaway. Here’s another way to install a reliable security system in just one day. DIY home security systems will help to protect your home and your family.

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security alarmsGrzegorz_P/Shutterstock

Glass Doors are Thieves’ Best Friends

If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don’t let your alarm company install the control pad where a burglar can see if it’s set. That makes it too easy. Glass doors will rob you in energy costs, too. See how to save money by better insulating a patio door.

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Vertical BlindsSomsak Sarabua/Shutterstock

Close Your Blinds

Burglars love looking in your windows. They’re looking for signs that you’re home or gaming systems they’d like. Burglars will drive or walk through your neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds, just to pick their targets. Hopefully you have a friendly neighbor but beware of the things they aren’t telling you.

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Secure Patio Doors

Forgetting to Secure Patio Doors

Patio door locks are easy to pick. Placing a heavy-duty stick in the door track will bar the door closed, but it looks crude and it’s inconvenient to remove every time you want to open the door. Fortunately, there’s a better way to get the security you need.

Andersen Corp.’s auxiliary foot lock (andersenwindows.com) fastens along the bottom of the door and has a bolt that fits into a grommet to hold the door secure. A similar lock, the Door Guardian (thedoorguardian.com) attaches at the top of the door. Both locks allow the door to open 3 in. without compromising security. Installation takes about 10 minutes. Screw the bracket containing the pin to the door, then drill holes and insert grommets in the track for the pin to slide into.

Need to replace your patio door? Here’s how to do it.

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Family Handyman

Keeping the Clicker in the Car

A thief who breaks into your car can grab the remote for easy access to your garage. This isn’t just a problem when your car is parked in the driveway; the registration card in your glove box gives a crook your address.

So get rid of the remote on your visor and buy a keychain remote. You can easily take it with you every time you leave the car. Home centers stock only a small selection of remotes, but you’ll find more online. Start your search by typing in the brand of your opener, followed by “remote.” You won’t believe the amazing powers of your car fob.

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Dead Flower Potmichaeljung/Shutterstock

Flowers Start to Wilt

While your friends and neighbors can pick up the mail, grab the paper, create tracks in the snow, etc. Your flowers might get overlooked. A thief in the area will wise up to what’s going on when they spot a few wilted flowers. Keep the bushes in your yard from wilting too with these tips.

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overgrown lawnchanon83/Shutterstock

Lawn Hasn’t Been Mowed For a While

If you have someone routinely mow your lawn you don’t have to worry about it overgrowing while your on vacation but if you think you can get away with it for a long time, think again. Thieves will notice just as quickly as your neighbors what an eyesore your lawn has become. The neighbors might talk about it with each other but a thief is going to use it as an excuse to check in on the rest of your house.

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window at nightWolfgang Zwanzger/Shutterstock

Leaving the House Dim

Some people want to leave a dim light on while they’re away on vacation as a deterrent to break-ins. The debate rages on whether it’s better to leave lights on or off but one thing’s for sure, those dim lights at night are going to be dim during the day and any smart burglar will notice that. Find out the other secrets burglars don’t want you to know.

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Family Handyman

Bushes Are Overgrown

Overgrown bushes leave a lot of hiding spots for burglars who are planning a heist. It might be a pain to trim them back but it’ll make your yard look better and improve security. Trimming shrubs should be one of the 14 things they do every month.

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shutterstock_634308593 amazon boxes packagesJulie Clopper/Shutterstock

Home Business

If you have a home business there are additional precautions to take since there will be an additional accumulation of assets, cash might be on hand, there might not be a safe or thousands of dollars of product might be sitting in a garage. A thief will spot a home business that does or doesn’t have signage. Try out these home office storage ideas to make it easier. 

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Combination Outdoor Kitchen and BarPhoto: Courtesy of American Deck & Sunroom

Leaving Stools in the Backyard

They make reaching windows a lot easier for would-be thieves.

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Bose

Leaving Radio On

Just like with leaving the lights dimmed, leaving a radio on or even on a timer isn’t going to deter a thief. It might even attract them if the radio plays non-stop. Many thieves still knock on the door to make sure no one is home before they enter a house.

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Reclaimed Key Hanger Lead

Don’t Keep Keys on a Hook Next to the Door

Keys in that close of proximity to a window is a terrible idea because that will give a burglar access to all sorts of goodies in addition to what’s in the house. Here’s why you need to wrap your car fob in foil.

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shutterstock_415877563 watching tv game in front of the tvgpointstudio/Shutterstock

Having Neighbors Over and Neighbors’ Friends

Word can get out quickly who’s got what in a house. It might not be whoever was in the house is a burglar but word could get down to a person looking for some quick cash. If you like to have people over to watch big games, here are some great tips on how to fit everyone in so it’s not claustrophobic.

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dangerous-ladder-settingCourtesy of Structure Tech

Put Tools Away

Don’t leave ladders next to the shed or next to the garage, don’t make the burglars job easier.

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newspaperGKRPHOTO/SHUTTERSTOCK

Obituaries in the Paper

A poster on Reddit mentioned that their deceased grandfather’s home got burglarized the day of the grandfather’s funeral. It might be helpful to have someone keep an eye on the house.

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TRAMPOLINEMonkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Toys in Yard

It means there are children and likely a mother with jewelry. Here’s a great-looking built-in jewelry closet you can keep some of those items in.

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Susan Law Cain/Shutterstock

Corner House

A house with one neighbor is a lot more attractive than one with two to a burglar.

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remodel_233311162 hire a pro contractorgoodluz/Shutterstock

Hired Help

A maid or tradesman could be giving out information about your place. Here’s how to hire a contractor.

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burglarChristian Delbert/Shutterstock

Not Doing Anything After a Burglary in the Area

Burglars often return to the same area after the initial burglary. It’s important to scout a neighborhood before you buy a house there.