One of the greatest things about living in a planned community is the sense of safety that it boasts.  Many communities have measures in place, such as street lights, cameras and a neighborhood watch, that all help to keep homeowners feeling safe and sound.  However, there are things that even the most prudent homeowner may do, unwittingly, that could make their home the target of a criminal.  

Leaving a Ladder out and Accessible

Whether taking down/putting up lights, cleaning the gutters, or simply rescuing an errant frisbee from the roof, the ladder has proven itself a priceless tool in the homeowner arsenal.  And yes, after the completion of any of these heroic tasks, it can be tempting to leave said apparatus out to sit against the house, or comfortably in the grass, rather than hauling it back to the garage or shed (a task in itself), but you must resist the urge.  Leaving a ladder out and accessible can leave you open to possible crime.  A ladder can give a thief easy access to second floor windows or entry into a back or side yard over a fence.  While it may be extra effort, be sure to bring your ladder safely inside once you are done with it. If you do not have an indoor storage area for your ladder, be sure to secure it with a chain and lock, or even a simple bicycle lock.

Patio and Porch Furniture

Much like a ladder, patio chairs and tables can easily be used by burglars to access elevated windows.  While it may be inconvenient, your best bet (if you want to keep your home as safe as possible) is to put away and lock up any furniture when you are not actively using it.  On the plus side, in addition to giving your home an added degree of security, putting away patio furniture when not in use will nearly guarantee it to last longer, and remain in much better condition, than if it were left out for the season.  

Letting Newspapers and Flyers Accumulate

Thieves are always looking for an easy opportunity.  When newspapers on the steps or driveway, and flyers under the mat and stuck in the door begin to accumulate, this is a clear sign to everyone around, including those with nefarious intentions, that you are out of town.  Thus, making your home an easy mark.  However, all of this can be avoided with just a bit of foresight.  When you plan your trip, talk to a neighbor about picking up your paper, and removing any flyers and such, from outside of your home.  Not only will this keep your house from looking vacant while you are away, you get the added security and peace of mind of having someone taking a look at your property every so often.  Just be sure to bring a nice souvenir back for your accommodating neighbor.  

Snow

Living in a location that boasts measurable snowfall comes with a whole extra set of responsibilities when it comes to homeownership, but signaling your absence to would-be thieves is not something that many initially think about.  Just like newspapers and flyers, accumulation of snow can let the neighborhood know that you are not home.  Ask a friend or, better yet, that generous neighbor, to walk around your property to leave footprints in the fluffy white stuff.  Even better, make arrangements with a friend/neighbor/local teenager with a good back and a desire for manual labor, to shovel your walk and driveway should the snow fall while you are away.  Even though you may be gone, just the subtle appearance of occupancy can be enough to deter a burglar.  

Leaving Windows Cracked

As the season warms, and we shake off the oppressing chill of winter, it is somewhat ceremonious for us to dramatically throw open our windows to welcome the start of spring.  You may even choose to leave those windows open, after your dramatic salutation, in order to let the fresh air flow throughout your previously closed-up castle.  This is all well and good, and while most vigilant homeowners would swear up and down that they are sure to shut and lock their windows before hitting the hay, the sentiment is a bit more lenient when it comes to leaving them cracked while out and about during the day.  While the cliche of the home robbery takes place at night, you are far more likely to have your home burglarized during the day, the most common time frame being from 10:00 in the morning, until 3:00 in the afternoon.  This is the time when most families are away, leaving homes empty and far easier to access.  Leaving a window open, even slightly cracked can give a thief an easy entry into your home. So while it can be tempting to leave those windows cracked during the day, while at work or school, don’t do it.