When leaving for a vacation, protecting your home is essential. Take the time to carefully plan appropriate home security and maintenance to fully enjoy your trip and give you peace of mind while you’re away.
Here are 12 steps to take to protect your property while traveling:
Do This: Turn on Your Security System
It’s important to not only have a reliable security alarm installed, but also turned on. While this may seem like common sense, many people, including wealthy celebrities with a lot of valuables in their homes are burglarized because they fail to activate their security system when they leave home. This is an especially crucial step to remember when you are heading out of town for an extended period of time.
Do This: Don’t Tip-Off Social Media
While it may be tempting to post your vacation photos on Facebook or Instagram, you letting the entire world (or at least your connections) know you are away from your home, leaves you vulnerable to burglary. Also, resist checking in at the airport or various exotic locations and avoid status updates like “Hawaii here we come!”. If you must, share your photos only with trusted connections and do it after you’ve arrived back to your safe, secure home.
Do This: Lock Up
Locking up your house may seem like common sense, but it’s critical to lock every possible entry into your home, not just the front door, but the back door, garage door, windows, patio doors, everything. And all with a deadbolt if possible.
Do This: Remove Spare Keys
If not whether you have a spare key hidden on your property, whether under the mat or in a fake stone, you don’t want to leave if not them out while you’re on vacation. When no one’s home, a would-be-thief has all the time in the world to carefully search your property until he finds what he’s looking for. An expert burglar knows all the most common hiding spots that you think are fooling him but aren’t.
Do This: Reprogram Your GPS
If you leave your car at the airport or even in your hotel parking lot overnight, a thief can break into your vehicle and simply access the “Home” setting on your GPS, leading him right to your unoccupied property. Instead, try setting your address in your GPS to a nearby intersection, that way you still get directed home, but won’t lead any bad guys there.
Do This: Put Valuables in the Safe
Before you head out of town, put any cash, expensive jewelry, guns, or family heirlooms in a safe. That way, in the event your home is broken into, the burglars won’t have access to your most valuable possessions.
Do This: Have Someone Keep an Eye on Your Property
One of the best ways to protect your home is to have someone keep an eye on your property. Many turn to neighbors with whom they have a good rapport and ask them to watch out for any suspicious activity while they’re away. Some even go as far as to provide a neighbor with a spare key to come in and feed the cat, bring in the mail, etc.
However, it’s important to consider how well you actually know your neighbors. Do you trust them not to go into your home and rifle through your things? If not, you could ask a friend or family member to come by and check on your house a few times a week. If you don’t implicitly trust your neighbors or have a friend or family member who’ll do it, it’s best to bring in a security professional.
You can also try calling your local police department to let them know you’re going on vacation. They’ll often send an extra patrol or two through your neighborhood to establish a presence. While this isn’t a replacement for asking someone trusted to stop by a few times, it is an additional layer of security.
Do This: Install Timers on Your Electronics
When it comes to showing a human presence within your home, lighting is a crucial component. If your home is dark for a week straight, that’s a clear sign that you’re on vacation. You also don’t want to leave the porch light on the entire time either.
A simple and affordable solution is to install a few well-placed timers in your home that have been programmed to turn on lights and other electronics like TVs and radios at specified times of the day. Be sure to buy timers that work at random intervals, as you wouldn’t want the lights to turn on every day at precisely 6 pm and turn off every night at exactly midnight. Criminals keeping an eye out on your neighborhood will surely notice these kinds of patterns and target your home for an intrusion. More and more people also have access to smart home devices like light bulbs and electrical outlets that can be turned on and off from any location using their smartphone.
Do This: Have Someone Mow the Lawn/Shovel the Driveway
A big giveaway that someone is on vacation is an unkempt lawn or a snow-filled driveway completely free of footprints. So in the summer, have your landscaping company mow your lawn even while you’re away, and in the winter enlist a friend, family member, neighbor or security company to clear your driveway and sidewalks of snow.
Do This: Stop the Mail
An overflowing mailbox and a pile of packages on the porch are clear indications that you’ve been away for an extended period. Have USPS put your mail on hold until you get back. Or ask a trusted friend/relative/neighbor to come by regularly to pick up your mail.
If you know you’re going to be away, it’s best not to order things that are scheduled to arrive while you’re gone. But if something does need to be delivered, you can also stop UPS and FedEx service or hold the packages at a pickup location. However, it can be a pain to retrieve those packages later. The most convenient option is to hire a full-service security company that can handle bringing in your mail and packages and many other tasks as opposed to inconveniencing your friends, family, neighbors, or yourself.
Do This: Have Someone Take Out the Trash
Trash sitting outside for a week or more not only stinks and may attract pests, but it can also attract thieves. Trash visible from the curb is also a clue to burglars if everyone else’s cans in the neighborhood are empty. Ask a trusted neighbor to bring your trashcans out and back in on trash day to avoid this.
Do This: Hire a Security Service
One option that covers many of these tactics is to hire a reputable security service. While it may seem more cost effective to enlist a family member, a friend, a neighbor or a house sitter to accomplish these things, these individuals cannot always be trusted or relied upon to do the job.
A security professional has been background checked and is trained to spot any security vulnerabilities on your property. He or she can also do everything including watering your plants, collecting your mail and packages, scheduling your lawn service, optimizing your alarm system, feeding and walking your pet, and so much more.
Who’s protecting your assets while you’re away? Contact us to learn how our Asset Overwatch service can help.