A quarter of homeowners admit they left the front door unlocked at least once during the last year when they were away from home, according to a recent survey commissioned by Nationwide Insurance.
The oversight was just one of several risky habits acknowledged by homeowners in the Harris Interactive poll. Burglaries peak during the summer months when many people are away on vacations and day trips, according to Nationwide claims data and FBI statistics.
"We conducted this survey to identify common behaviors that could expose home and personal property to thieves," Pete Lore, associate vice president of property technical claims at Nationwide, said in a press statement. "What we found was that homeowners can, and should, do more to protect their belongings."
Among the findings:
- Forty-one percent of 18- to 34-year-old homeowners post social media photos or updates when they are on vacation.
- Although the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association estimates almost one-third of burglars enter through the front door, just 15 percent of homeowners correctly believe it's the most common entry point.
- Thirty-nine percent of homeowners admit leaving their doors unlocked about the same amount or more often as their parents did when they were growing up.
- Thirty-five percent of homeowners tend to leave ground-floor windows unlocked, and 34 percent leave second-story and above windows unlocked.
- Twenty percent of homeowners with an alarm system don't activate it during the day, even though that's when most thefts occur.
- Thirty percent of homeowners hide a spare key outside their home.
"Preventive measures only work if you use them. We want to ensure homeowners recognize the importance of taking those few extra steps to keep themselves, their families and their belongings safe," Lore said.
Nationwide offers homeowners the following tips to prevent theft:
- Lock windows and doors before leaving home.
- Install motion-detecting lights.
- Install a home alarm system, and activate it when leaving the home.
- Notify trustworthy people when out of town and ask them to check on the house occasionally.
- Don't announce online that you're going on vacation.
- Stop mail and newspaper deliveries when away from home.