There is no better time to take a vacation than the summer. The children are out of school, the weather is warm, and the days stretch long in laid-back beauty.
In preparation for your trip, you have placed a hold on the mail and stopped newspaper delivery, but is your house really secure from criminals looking to prey upon your untended home?
It is true that newspapers collecting in the driveway or packages on the front porch can signal your absence, but there are additional steps that any homeowner should consider to avoid opening the doors to criminals.
1. Keep Mum on Your Travel Plans: Sure, you are excited about your vacation, but there is no need to let the world know where you are going or how long you will be away. As tempting as it may be, resist the urge to announce your travel plans through social media. You never know who is reading, and you certainly don't know their intentions.
2. Let Your Neighbors Know: It pays to keep your neighbors in the know when you are leaving town. Make it a point to tell them that you will be leaving and how long you will be away. Ask if they will keep an eye out on your home. Buy them a bottle of wine or bake some cookies to show your appreciation. A few sets of eyes on your domicile may be your best defense against a burglar.
3. Consider a Home Security System: Advancements in technology have led to lower-prices for home security systems. These systems have become simpler, and homeowners can mix and match equipment to establish the level of protection that is right for them. If you believe that a security system is your silver bullet for burglars while you are away, consider the following:
- Install window and door sensors on easy-to-access entry points, as well as hidden or second floor windows. Burglars will often opt for less-traveled paths into your house, so try to beat them at their own game.
- Motion sensors are perfect for inside the house, particularly in rooms where you keep your valuables, like jewelry or silver.
- Purchase a security system that offers email/text alerts and a web portal. This will allow you to lock and unlock doors, and monitor your home from wherever you are.
- Install keypads or other controls for your security system out of sight. This will prevent a burglar from determining whether or not your system is armed.
- Use the signage and stickers that are frequently provided with systems. This can scare off a burglar before they even attempt to penetrate your home.
- Most importantly, turn your system on before you leave.
If a home security system is out of your price range or too difficult a job to complete prior to taking off on your vacation, consider leaving a television or a radio on while you are gone. The noise will lead a burglar to wonder if the house is really vacant, and this doubt could be just enough to protect your belongings.
4. Keep Valuables Out of Sight: Burglaries are often carefully mapped out, and criminals go to great lengths to confirm which home to target. It is not uncommon for them to look through windows to identify expensive property, or even imitate door-to-door salesmen or maintenance workers, just to get a glimpse inside. Make sure that gaming systems, electronics, jewelry, and other valuables are stored out of sight.
5. Turn on the Lights: Burglars are like vampires; they hate light. Given that they often rely on the cover of darkness to provide safe passage into and out of your house, a few strategically placed lights can spoil their plans to take advantage of your home. If you are reluctant to leave lights on for a week or so while you are away, consider installing timer switches or motion sensitive lights. Both are relatively inexpensive and will ensure that the lights are on when your home is most at risk.
6. Lock All Windows and Doors: An unlocked door or window is an open invitation to someone looking to steal your property. Prior to leaving town, make sure that the locks on all of the doors and windows work. If not, replace them. Then, on the day of your departure, check and double check to make sure that they are locked.
Nothing can mar a great vacation like returning home to a ransacked house. Prior to packing your bags and boarding the plane for a week of relaxation, make sure to secure your home. It doesn't take much money or effort to send a would-be-burglar searching for a more attractive target.
Angelo DiGangi, a Home Depot sales associate in the Chicago area, is a regular contributor to Home Depot's website. He provides tips to homeowners ranging from security in the home and home security products to doors, windows and flooring.
Team Leader, The Tonnesen Team
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Nevada
3185 St Rose Pkwy #100 Henderson, NV 89052
With over 30 years of experience helping families call Las Vegas "home!"