These are the sounds of summer! Time to plan your next family vacation.
But while the cat is away, the mice will play…or in this case, the burglars. Before you drive down to the beach or up to the mountains, keep these things in mind.
1. Don’t Discuss Your Upcoming Trip on Social Media
Keep the details about your trip to yourself until you get back. Posting prior to your trip is like putting a big neon light above your home saying, “We aren’t home, come on in.” You never know exactly who is reading your updates, so you’d be better off keeping your travel plans to yourself until you return.
A quick personal story – My husband and I planned a vacation to celebrate our anniversary a few years ago. I posted a picture of my son sleeping in the car and Facebook automatically added our location – the San Francisco Bay Area. I clearly wasn’t at home and all of Facebook knew it. Three hours later we got a call from our alarm company that our house had been broken into, and thousands of dollars worth of property was either taken or destroyed. To this day, I can’t help but wonder if that picture had something to do with it.
2. Don’t Leave Your Lights On
Many people leave lights on while they are away to give off the illusion that someone’s home. But simply leaving the lights on won’t necessarily fool anyone, especially if they stay on all day and night. Instead add timers to your lights so they turn on and off at appropriate times. Or look into adding a home automation system to your existing home security system. Besides the ability to control your lights, locks and security alarm from your phone, the system may be able to help you identify potential energy cost savings in your home.
3. Unplug Appliances
Take the time to unplug your window AC unit, toaster, coffee maker and other appliances. While the chance is slim that they will catch fire while you are gone, it is better to be safe than sorry. Besides, most appliances draw electricity even when they aren’t in use. This is a great way to save a few dollars on your electric bill, and after a spendy vacation, what’s better than that?
4. Put a Hold On Your Mail and Newspaper
Nothing screams “empty house” more than a stack of newspapers on your front doorstep. Put a hold on your newspaper delivery or ask a trusted neighbor to pick up your paper every day in order to keep your home from looking abandoned.
Due to an increase in mailbox break-ins, you should also put a hold on your mail. Having sensitive documents, bank statements and bills sitting in a box on the street for an extended period of time is never a good idea.
5. Store Ladders and Lock All Storage Sheds
Don’t give a potential thief the equipment to break into your home. Make sure you store all ladders and tools in a locked garage or storage shed. Remember that a home break-in is often one of easy opportunity.
6. Store Valuables in a Locked Safe
We all have sensitive or more costly items that crooks love getting their hands on. Put all valuables including jewelry, paperwork, firearms and electronics in a locked and hidden safe, if possible. That way, the break-in doesn’t necessarily mean losing these important belongings.
7. Tell a Neighbor
It is always a good idea to let a loyal and trusted neighbor or two know that you will be headed out of town. They can keep an eye on your property and alert you or the authorities in case of suspicious activity.
8. Lock All Windows and Doors
Yes, many home break-ins are a crime of opportunity. Before you head out of town, double check that every window and every door in your home is locked. It may sound like a no-brainer but when you are rushing out of the door to catch a flight or get on the road to beat traffic, these simple tasks are the ones we forget the most.
While we pay extra attention to home security when going on vacation, we should all be diligent throughout the year. Download our free checklist to ensure you are doing all that you can to keep your property safe.
Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net