“Vacating” for a vacation can be something you look forward to for months. Packing bags, placing the dog with a sitter (or preparing to take it with), making sure you have everything you’ll need but not too much to bog you down — all are part of the equation leading to that little adventure.
But what if coming home means finding your house, your belongings, and your life violated? According to the Department of Justice, summer is prime time for burglaries. In fact, there are 10 percent more burglaries in the summer than in the winter, along with the rate of household property victimization and household larceny. To go on vacation knowing you are doing all you can do to protect your domain, here are some tips. You simply can’t put a price on peace of mind while you’re gone.
- It seems like a no-brainer, but lock all doors and windows. More than a third of burglars enter a home through an unlocked window or door. Don’t wait until the morning before you leave to do this. You may find you have a faulty lock on a window and need to fix it before you go. Make sure the windows shut and lock properly. If they are on the ground floor, you may even want to take a survey of your own and pretend you are a would-be thief. Notice what the thief can see from the outside and make sure (if you don’t want to close all blinds and drapes) that nothing terribly valuable can be seen.
- Home security companies are not exaggerating how valuable their products are, even though adding a system to your home is no small budget item. Statistics show that adding such a system can reduce the chance your home will be burglarized by 300 percent, many offering remote access so you can check your home security from your phone. You can even use your phone app to lock/unlock doors or check on pets via security cameras. An added bonus? Your insurance provider may discount your home insurance premium substantially when you install a security system.
- Attached garages are the most overlooked points of entry in a house. To secure your garage, include motion detector lights on the corners of the garage, make sure the garage service door is locked, and hide valuables out of sight. Oh — and if you are planning to leave a car in the driveway, be sure to remove the garage door remote. A burglar won’t think twice about breaking into your vehicle and using the remote to access your garage.
- Light timers have been around since the ‘50s. They are cheap, easy to install, and can help deter criminals by making your home look occupied. The best choice is a timer with a “random on/off” option, so your lights turn on and off at various times throughout the day and night, making it difficult for burglars to determine if the home is vacant.
- Tell pretty much everyone you know and trust that you will be out of town and leave them a number where you can be reached, but unless you have someone living in your home when you are gone, save those social media vacation posts for after your trip. They do tend to advertise your absence.
- House sitters are actually an excellent idea. He or she can pick up fliers left at the door, bring in the mail, and take garbage and recycling bins to the curb. These things help hide the fact you’re not home. Even if you don’t hire one to stay in your home, some offer the services of visiting the house often, taking a walk around inside and outside, and ensuring all is well. They can also check for problems like electrical or water issues that can occur, like a break in a water line. Unplug appliances, turn off the water valves to all sinks, the dishwasher, and the washing machine, and test your smoke detectors.
Source: Redfin, TBWS