travel-home-safety-tips

12 Ways to Protect Your Home While Traveling

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.

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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.

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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

knight-protection-services-logoOne 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.

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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.

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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.

bank-of-america-building-atlanta

3 Ways to Deter Criminal Activity While You’re Away

Atlanta is a great place to live. It’s home to an assortment of wonderful people, vibrant music, movies, arts and other industries, and an array of beautiful neighborhoods — both old and new. However, not everything in Atlanta is peaches and sweet tea.

In this article, we’ll review the crime rates in Atlanta, as well as some of its most popular suburbs and inner-city neighborhoods. We’ll then discuss three ways to protect your home while you’re away, whether you live in these neighborhoods or anywhere in the country.

Crime Rates in Atlanta

While Atlanta may be the third fastest-growing metro area in the nation, with 90,000 people moving here between 2016 and 2017, it’s also a hotbed for criminal activity.

  • The Atlanta metro area had three times the national violent crime rate in 2016, with 1,084 violent crimes reported per 100,000 Atlanta residents.
  • The city was also one of America’s top 25 murder capitals.
  • The overall crime rate in Atlanta is 123% higher than the national average.
  • In Atlanta, you have a one in 16 chance of becoming a victim of any crime.
  • When it comes to property crimes, Atlanta is 114% higher than the national average.

Let’s take a closer look at the crime rates of some of the most popular cities and neighborhoods in the Atlanta metro area.

Smyrna, GA

One of the most densely populated cities in the metro area, the crime rate in Smyrna is considerably higher than the national average in America.

  • The chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime in Smyrna is one in 31.
  • Relative to Georgia, Smyrna has a crime rate that is higher than 68% of the state’s cities and towns of all sizes.
  • The chance that a person will become a victim of a violent crime in Smyrna; such as armed robbery, aggravated assault, rape or murder; is one in 267.
  • Your chance of becoming a victim of a property crime in Smyrna, including motor vehicle theft, arson, larceny, and burglary, is one in 36.

Marietta, GA

One of Atlanta’s largest and most sought-after suburbs, Marietta has one of the highest crime rates in America at 42 per one thousand residents.

  • One’s chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime here is one in 24.
  • Within Georgia, more than 77% of the communities have a lower crime rate than Marietta.
  • The chance that a person will become a victim of a violent crime in Marietta is one in 241.
  • Your chance of becoming a victim of a property crime is one in 26, which is a rate of 38 per one thousand population.

Buckhead

Known as one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Atlanta and ranked among the top 100 wealthiest zip codes in the U.S., Buckhead is a prime target for criminals looking to prey on those with valuable assets stored inside their properties.

  • The overall crime rate in Buckhead is 54% higher than the national average.
  • For every 100,000 people, there are 11.96 daily crimes that occur in Buckhead.
  • In Buckhead, you have a one in 23 chance of becoming a victim of any crime.
  • The chance of being a victim of property crime in Buckhead is one in 25.

West End

The West End is one of the worst neighborhoods in Atlanta when it comes to crime statistics. Those living in this area should take every precaution to keep your families, homes, businesses and other assets safe.

  • The overall crime rate in the West End is 186% higher than the national average.
  • For every 100,000 people, there are 22.2 daily crimes that occur in the West End.
  • In the West End, you have a one in 13 chance of becoming a victim of any crime.
  • The chance of being a victim of property crime in the West End is one in 17.

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3 Steps to Deter Crime from Happening While You Are Away

Now that you know how likely you are to be the victim of a crime in Atlanta, it’s time to take some serious measures to ensure protection for yourself, your loved ones and your assets. Here are three things to consider:

Step 1: Assess Your Risk

Do you know how safe your property is? If you think for one second that locking the doors and activating your security alarm is enough to prevent a crime from happening on your property, you’re fooling yourself. Determined criminals have likely plotted out several ways to victimize you that you’ve never even thought about.

And that alarm monitoring service that you think is protecting you will actually do nothing to prevent a crime from happening, it will only alert the authorities after a crime has already occurred.

To prevent a crime before it happens, it’s imperative that you do an audit of your property, looking for any and every way a savvy criminal could use to get in.

If you’re not a savvy criminal or someone with extensive security experience, hiring a professional is a good idea. Someone trained to think like a criminal and well-versed in the latest security tools, technologies and methodologies can give you a comprehensive overview of your property, pinpointing where your vulnerabilities lie and how to fix them. By taking care of the issues facing your home now, you’ll feel that much more secure when you leave.

Step 2: Reinforce Your Property

Burglars will typically avoid a house if it is too difficult to gain entry. After assessing your risk, you should have a good idea of what you need to do to increase the security of your home. This may include:

  • Additional exterior lighting
  • Updated locks
  • Optimizing your alarm system
  • Video monitoring
  • Reinforced entry points
  • Removing overgrown brush or other structures to allow proper sight lines

Step 3: Give the Appearance of Presence

Some dead giveaways that a homeowner is away for an extended period of time are newspapers piled up in the driveway, letters overflowing from the mailbox, porch lights left on all day and unkept lawns. A few ways to avoid letting on that no one is home include:

  • Placing a hold on your mail delivery from USPS, FedEx, UPS, etc.
  • Installing timed lighting to come on at random times throughout the day and night to give the appearance of activity inside the home
  • Asking a neighbor to routinely check on your property while you’re away
  • Scheduling the landscapers to come while you’re away so your yard stays neat looking.

However, if you’re too busy to set these things up yourself, don’t have a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your home while you’re away, or desire a higher level of protection for your valuable assets, an alternative would be to hire a team of trusted security professionals to conduct security sweeps, pick up your mail, install timers, feed the dog, water the plants and more.

The trauma of being victimized by burglary can have long-lasting psychological effects. Anyone in possession of valuable assets should take the necessary steps to ensure their protection while they’re away. Being proactive about the safety of your property goes a long way toward warding off criminal activity.