As many Americans enjoy summer vacations, day trips and barbeques, some will unfortunately return home to find they have been burglarized. According to Nationwide Insurance claims data and FBI statistics, home theft occurs more in June, July and August than any other months of the year.
A recent survey commissioned by Nationwide survey reveals that, while a majority of homeowners (79 percent) have at least one common theft-prevention measure (e.g., alarm system, deadbolt), three in 10 (30 percent) do not use any, potentially putting their loved ones and belongings at unnecessary risk during a heightened burglary season.
"At Nationwide, we're committed to protecting our members and what is most important to them," explains Pete Lore, associate vice president of property technical claims at Nationwide. "We conducted this survey to identify common behaviors that could expose home and personal property to thieves. What we found was that homeowners can, and should, do more to protect their belongings."
The Harris Interactive survey of 1,005 Americans with a homeowners or condo insurance policy shows that common misconceptions about theft can cause people to create unnecessary risks, leaving homes and belongings more vulnerable to burglars.
Homeowners admit risky behaviors
• One-quarter of homeowners (25 percent) acknowledge leaving the front door of their home unlocked when leaving the house at least once in the past year
• Four in 10 (41 percent) 18-34 year-old homeowners surveyed post social media photos/updates when they are on vacation
• While the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association estimates nearly one-third of all burglars enter through the front door, just 15 percent of homeowners in Nationwide's survey correctly believe it's the most common entry point
• 39 percent of homeowners admit leaving leave their doors unlocked about the same amount or more often as their parents did when they were growing up, despite a dramatic rise in thefts over the last 40 years
• Many homeowners tend to leave ground floor (35 percent) or second story and above (34 percent) windows unlocked
• 20 percent of homeowners with an alarm system don't activate it during the day, even though that's when most thefts occur
• Three in 10 (30 percent) 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," adds Lore.
Nationwide offered the following tips as a result of the survey findings:
• Check windows and doors: Make sure doors are locked before leaving the home
• Install motion-detecting lights: A burglar's best friend is a dark home. Motion-detecting lights can deter burglars from breaking into your home
• Install a home alarm system: Make sure to activate it every time you leave home
• Tell people you're out of town-the right people: Tell local authorities or your neighborhood watch program you will be gone. Ask them to drive by your house and check on it occasionally
• Don't announce online that you're going on vacation: Burglars can use social media to find out who isn't home
• Stop deliveries: Put your newspaper and mail delivery on hold while you are away or have someone pick it up for you. A pile of newspapers or mail overflowing from your mailbox is an indicator to burglars that no one is home
"The items in a home are what make it a home. That's why we offer our members Brand New Belongings coverage. If a theft occurs, we'll reimburse the member the full cost to repair or replace the covered personal property with new or articles similar to those stolen or destroyed. That's the benefit to being part of the Nation," explains Lore.**
For more information on how to keep your home safe and what to do in the event home theft occurs, consumers can check out this home prevention infographic or contact your local Nationwide agent. Consumers can see how they stack up on the theft-prevention behaviors by taking Nationwide's home theft quiz.