Beautiful sandy beaches and tropical breezes… or maybe whipping through the frozen tundra on a dog sledding expedition through to see the northern lights. Whatever your version of a dream vacation is, don’t let it be ruined by a phone call from a neighbor telling you that your house has been burglarized while you were enjoying your time away. There are a lot of things that burglars look for when they are casing properties, and they are experts at finding where and which homes are most vulnerable.
There are a lot of things that burglars look for when they are casing properties, and they are experts at finding where and which homes are most vulnerable.
While everyone is familiar with the classic Home Alone version of burglary, where the bungling robbers dress up as police officers to lure unsuspecting families into just telling them when they’ll be out of town, most burglars are smart and dedicated to their craft. They won’t ask you if you’re leaving – they will look for the telltale signs that you’re not home or that you’re going on vacation.
Before we delve into how to protect your home from burglary, it is important that you understand who these people are. It makes us happy to believe that no one in our own neighborhoods would ever be a thief, but that false sense of security is exactly what burglars are counting on. From misguided teenagers to a neighbor’s shady brother who happens to be visiting for the weekend, you can never tell who is likely to break into your house simply because they can.
Aside from locking up your home well and only leaving your key with a highly-trusted person (and not anywhere near your home), there are a few things that you can do to ensure your home and belongings will be safe and sound when while you are away enjoying your vacation.
Don’t Broadcast Your Vacation
We love to share our everyday adventures with the world, from scoring limited edition sneakers to declaring our love or dislike for newly-elected politicians, there is nearly nothing that we are not willing to document on social media. No matter how excited you may be to visit Australia for two weeks next month, do not advertise that you will not be home on social media. Again, because some you know, or someone who knows someone you know may be untrustworthy, it is never a good idea to tell the world that you will not be home for a while.
Put Your Mail on Hold
Packages and letters piling up on your porch is a great way to attract a lot of unwanted attention to your home. Instead of taking a chance that no one will notice the pile up, simply go online to the US Post Office website and have your packages put on hold for the duration of your vacation. If you are uncomfortable doing so, you can also ask a neighbor or friend to pick up your mail on a daily basis. If you live in an apartment complex and your mailbox key is broken or the lock malfunctions. Talk to your landlord before vacation to get your mailbox lock fixed to protect the important mail you are expecting.
Another dead giveaway to burglars that you’re not home is by having your lights constantly on or constantly off the whole time you are gone. Instead of leaving these things solely on or off, install a timer to turn them on and off fairly randomly. Electronic timers are easily purchased in a variety of stores and can be used for lamps, TVs, and outdoor lights.
Keep Up Appearances
Just like mail piling up on your doorstep is a dead giveaway that you’re elsewhere, so is an unattended home space. Have someone you know take out your trash cans for garbage day (even if they’re empty), open and close your blinds and curtains, and hire someone to mow your lawn while you’re away.
The more your home appears to be going through its normal routine, the less likely your home is to be identified as empty. Go one step further and ask a trusted friend or neighbor with an extra car to park it in your driveway while you’re gone for added illusion.
Add Two Kinds of Visual Security
Although advertising that you are not home is never a good idea, advertising that your home is protected by an alarmed security system is a great idea. From stickers to signs in your front yard, there is no easier way to let thieves know that your home is secured and that an alarm will go off if your doors or windows are tampered with.
Have a Regularly-Scheduled Visitor Keep an Irregular Schedule
You need your plants watered and your cat fed, so if possible, give your plants to your friends and have your pets boarded to prevent this all-too-easy-to-see home security faux pas. If you absolutely cannot remove your plants or animals from the home, and don’t have a house sitter staying at your residence, make sure that your plant waterer and pet-feeder keeps a shifting schedule when visiting your house. Your neighbors and potential thieves will notice if someone comes in and out of your house for only 20 minutes at the same time every day.