Heading out of town during the upcoming holidays and concerned about burglars who see the season as an opportune time to target unoccupied homes filled with high-priced gifts? Here are some tips/reminders on what to do—and what not to do—to safeguard your home and provide you with peace of mind so that you can relax and enjoy your time away:
Maintain a low profile: Although many people’s first instincts are to announce their excitement over upcoming travel, any of our members who have worked in law enforcement would certainly advise thinking twice before disclosing these plans to just anyone. Although social media has made it commonplace to share life details with the masses, it’s critical to exercise restraint when it comes to your travel and operate on a need-to-know basis. Confine your itinerary to your inner circle, and resist any urge to post about it on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. And of course, if you have a landline phone, refrain from announcing that you’re away on your voicemail.
Consider getting a house/pet sitter: Common sense tells us that one sure way to make your home appear occupied is to have a trusted friend, neighbor or family member stay there while you’re away. But if you have one or more pet, it can also make good financial sense to forgo boarding them at a kennel and instead pay someone a small daily fee to care for them in your home while also bringing in your mail, watering plants, taking out the garbage and dealing with any unexpected calamities. If money is tight, you can also offer to trade off on house sitting.
Don’t let mail and newspapers accumulate: As bundles of newspapers and uncollected mail are clear signs to a thief that no one is home, be sure you don’t allow them to pile up in your driveway or at your front door while you’re gone. Enlist the help of a dependable person to take these items into your home, or stop delivery on your newspaper and hold your mail at the post office. Also make sure that if you’re expecting any deliveries, you have someone available to hold them for you or move them inside.
Handle product packaging with care: Planning on buying big-ticket items such as a new TV, Xbox or Nintendo Wii as gifts this season? Be careful disposing of packaging so as not to entice burglars. Break down boxes and turn them inside out, or put them in black garbage bags before placing them in the recycling bin.
Move your valuables away from plain sight: While it’s generally not recommended to close all of your curtains and blinds when you’re away if you normally keep them open or partially open, it is important that valuables such as laptops and expensive TV sets are moved away from windows to be out of the direct line of vision. Also hide valuables such as jewelry and electronics away from obvious places where burglars will look first, such as the living room and master bedroom.
Be aware of your lighting: In terms of deterring burglars and preventing disasters in your home, it pays to be thoughtful about your use of lights. Set your interior lights on a timer or have anyone who visits your home rotate turning them on and off regularly. Motion sensor lights installed outdoors can help discourage intruders and are a relatively inexpensive investment. For costs and information on installing them, visit http://bit.ly/CostofMotionSensorLights. When it comes to holiday lights, don’t use them indoors if your home will be unoccupied, and set any outdoor holiday lights on a timer.
Finally, at the risk of stating the obvious, make sure that you’ve locked all of your windows and doors before you leave for vacation, removed any hideaway keys from outside and set your home security system if you have one. For more information on keeping your home secure, look for our blog post in December about “smart home” technology trends!