Protect Your Model Homes

A few simple steps can decrease the chances burglars will target your development

By Jeremy White

Many builders don't realize the high costs that accrue when thieves burglarize their model homes. There are the obvious time and upfront costs of replacing and reinstalling appliances and furnishings. Then there’s the downtime it takes to file insurance claims and handle all the other paperwork.

But the highest expense comes when the local news covers the model home theft in your neighborhood. Imagine what potential buyers must think when they see the home of their dreams - the one they just visited - with broken glass, flashing strobe lights and police standing outside of it.

Thankfully, the thieves who routinely burglarize model homes have patterns, and there are many ways you can prevent burglary at your model home. Here's how:

Minimize Usage of Addresses in Marketing and PR Efforts

You have to give out the addresses of your houses in order for prospective buyers to visit. However, it's often through great marketing and PR that burglars get a list for a quick and safe burglary spree. As much as possible you want to take the physical addresses of your model homes out of your brochures and pamphlets. And if you work with a PR agency, be sure that you don’t mention any addresses of your model homes in the local news coverage you get. Your website is another place to consider removing addresses. Treat addresses almost like keys. Don't give them out until you have established some level of trust with the prospect.

Install Surveillance Cameras and Other Crime Deterrent Technologies

Installing surveillance video cameras outside your model homes can really help to deter crime. Especially if you have surveillance professionals observing and standing by to activate strobe lights and sirens to run off potential burglars. Surveillance is a powerful and scalable method for preventing theft at model homes.

 

Know Your Neighbors

Neighbors are the first and strongest line of defense in neighborhood security. If they can put a face to your model home, they will be much more likely to help protect you. Bring them gift baskets, shake hands and be respectful. Let them know that you’d appreciate if they’d call the police if they notice anyone at the model home after dark.

Remove Showing Signage Immediately After the Show

If you’re having a home show event in a neighborhood and need to show your model homes, signs in the front yard are a must. Just make sure you take them down after the event is over, and if possible remove any signage around your development that indicates where the model homes are located.

Conduct Thorough Security Checks at the Close of Showing Days

If you’ve had any walk-throughs in your model home, then you need to do a security walk-through before you leave for the day. This means checking windows, all doors, the garage door and any other access point that could have been unlocked. If you find anything unlocked or out of the ordinary, call the police and ask them to swing by that night.

Keep a Descriptive Record of Prospects Who Tour Your Model Homes

Consider having your sales staff keep written notes of physical descriptions next to visitors, especially if you’ve had a rash of burglaries in your area recently. Recording make and model of cars would be good too, along with license plates.

Conduct Nighttime Visits to Your Model Home

Visit your model home at night and try to look at it the way a burglar would. Primarily you’re looking for unlit areas that could conceal a burglar’s activities. Are all your lights lit? How much potential cover does your landscaping provide? If your model home’s privacy hedges conceal an area where burglars could load up a van, then they may need to go. There’s nothing like a nighttime visit to see where you could be vulnerable.

Monitor the News for Recent Burglaries in Your Area

Burglars often strike in sprees; they work for a few nights and then lay low while they fence their goods and wait for the heat to pass. If you know that burglars are at work in your area, then you can take extra precautions. One way to follow burglaries in your area is Google Alerts.

Be Extra Wary on Delivery Day

Seasoned thieves know to watch and learn your goods and materials delivery schedule. Be especially wary on days when you’ve just delivered thousands of dollars worth of appliances to your model homes. As disgusting as it may be, think about it from the thief’s perspective for a moment; they don’t even have to take the stove out of the wall. It’s just sitting there in the garage, new in the box. If possible, vary your delivery schedules, and be especially wary immediately after deliveries.

Jeremy White is CEO of Pro-Vigil.com, a California construction security company. He can be reached at info@pro-vigil.com.