“I think they’re leaving the house so it looks unoccupied,” Billy Fleetwood, owner of Cartersville’s Fleetwood Security, said of the most common targets of burglary during the summer. “They’re not having the grass cut, they’re leaving the newspapers or mail, they’re not having a timer on the light so the light comes on periodically or on a radio or something like that to make the house look like it’s occupied.
“Don’t park a car in the driveway and leave it there, park it in the garage or park it at a neighbors house.”
He said beyond making a home look occupied while residents are out, having the home fitted with a security system is the second step for homeowners who still feel at risk.
“We provide a free security survey to determine the best solution for the homeowner based on their budget and their needs,” Fleetwood said. “Some homeowners are looking for security while they’re away from their home just to protect their belongings. Some homeowners purchase home security systems because, if they feel a threat, they want to be alerted before somebody comes in the house in the event of a vicious entry or something of that nature. A home invasion is a worry for a lot of people.”
He said advertising that a home is equipped with a security system can curb the possibility of a break-in, but it’s best for those trying to protect their home to not simply cry wolf over their level of protection.
“If they are from a reputable company ..., yard signs, stickers do deter,” Fleetwood said. “A house that has a system is less likely to be burglarized.”
Advances in home security also allow for more control, he said, despite the misconceptions that security systems still require a home telephone line.
“With the new technology of not requiring a home phone line, many homeowners are hesitant about a security system because they think they need a telephone line for their monitoring service,” Fleetwood said. “With the new monitoring using the cellular network and being able to monitor your security system from your smartphone to alert you when your kids come home from school or the neighbor that’s watching your dog goes in the house, you get alerts about those activities and it makes it a more secured system because you don’t have a phone line service to deal with.”
When looking for a home security system, he said homeowners need to do their homework on what is available before making any commitments.
“[Homeowners] really need to look at local companies for service,” Fleetwood said. “There’s a lot of national companies, there’s a lot of summer programs where they hire college students to go door-to-door, they’re there for the monthly service, they’re not worried about the security of the person ..., so they need to look at local companies that are reputable in the community that provide a security solution.”
Home security company ADT provided the BBB with the advice to be relayed to consumers regarding keeping homes safe, particularly during prime travel months:
• Be careful about the vacation details you share via social media. Burglars can use posts on Twitter or Facebook to determine when you’ll be away. More than one-third (35 percent) of Americans polled in ADT’s Safety Data Index survey said they believed their home is too ordinary and would not interest a burglar. However, a vacant home could be enough to attract unwanted attention, so be careful about broadcasting your travel plans.
• Lock your doors even when you’re gone for a brief amount of time. Two-thirds (67 percent) of Americans surveyed for the Safety Data Index agree they do more to protect their homes when they are going away for a night than when they are just leaving for a few hours. But, according to the FBI, more than half (53 percent) of home burglaries happen during the day, so homeowners should secure doors and windows every time they leave their home.
• Check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors every month. Summer marks the beginning of hurricane season, and if a generator needs to be used in a power outage, a quick test of your monitored life safety devices can help keep your family safe from potentially dangerous fumes.
• Keep hedges and bushes around your home trimmed, so burglars don’t have places to hide.
Participating security companies can be reviewed at www.bbb.org.