Is Your House Ready for Vacation?
You’ve been saving all year for that dream vacation, but it’s hard to enjoy yourself if you’re worrying about things at home. The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that burglary accounts for 23.4 percent of all property crimes and holidays and summers remain peak seasons for house break-ins. A little careful planning goes a long way to securing things at home, so you can focus on the task at hand—having fun on that much needed vacation.
Check the Locks
Houses shift and that means the lock you put in five years ago may not be as secure as you think. A drooping door leaves just enough space for a burglar to slide something into the gap and disengage the lock.
- Start by making sure all exterior doors have deadlocks. Don’t forget the door that goes into the house from the garage. Put a high-quality deadbolt on it even if the garage door locks.
- Examine locks on windows and sliding doors to ensure foundation shifts have not made them obsolete. Pull on locked windows so you know they latch properly.
- Install a metal dowel on sliding glass doors and windows. Just lay the metal bar inside the track to work as a blockade that keeps the door or window from opening.
Make It Look Like Someone is Home
The key is to make sure your house seems lived in even when you are away. You can ask someone you trust to house-sit or hire a professional house sitter. TrustedHousesitters.com suggests that having actual bodies in the home while you are on vacation is safer, and an especially attractive option if you have pets. If that’s not a practical solution, you can take steps to give the appearance that someone is there. Make sure someone mows the lawn to keep up appearances. If you are going to be gone for just a few days, have the landscapers come before you leave and trim things up. Set up a timer for the lights. Put timers in different rooms, so they come on at intervals throughout the evening. For example, have the bedroom light pop on for 30 minutes around 11pm while the kitchen lights up during dinner hour. As an alternative to the old fashion timer, consider a security system that gives you access to the lights from your phone. That way you can set them up to turn on and off while on the road.
Hold the Mail
Put a hold on your mail delivery. The postal service offers a “Request Hold Mail” online form that will stop delivery while you are away. Stop newspapers as well. If mail accumulates in your mailbox or doorstep, it can be a tip to burglars that you are not home. It also puts your personal information at risk. Criminals who steal your mail may have access to bank accounts and other information, which could put you at risk for identity theft. If you’re going on a long trip, identity protection services from a resource such as Lifelock can help you monitor your personal information at home as well as protect you while traveling.
Coordinate With Your Neighbors
Friendly neighbors come in handy when you are going out of town. Pair up with one or two neighbors who you trust to watch each other’s homes while away. They can park a car in your driveway, for example, to make it appear occupied. The National Sheriffs’ Association suggests neighbors exchange email addresses, and create a community list to notify people when there are crimes in the area. This way neighbors can keep an eye out for unusual activity around your property when you are not there and get in touch if necessary.
Social media sites encourage you to share your life moment-to-moment. The only problem is that you are not just sharing the play-by-plays with family and friends. For example, website We Know What You are Doing reports the details of people’s lives directly from mainstream social media sites. When you discuss your vacation as it happens, you might alert the wrong people that you are not home. Instead, wait and share your vacation details when you return.