Traveling, especially during the holidays, can sometimes create more worry than relief.
With all that holiday planning, spending, traveling, and visits to out-of-town family and friends, it’s easy to forget about securing your home. But the gift-giving season can see home burglaries increase by as much as 20%. Don’t let your worries ruin what should be time enjoyed with loved ones. With a few precautions and a bit of prep, you can keep your home safe and secure while you’re away.
Make it seem like someone’s home
ApartmentGuide reports that the average break-in lasts between 8 to 10 minutes. Having signs that you aren’t home like dark windows and an empty parking spot will make a burglar think they have plenty of time to find valuables in your home.
In addition, home automation can change the scene of your home, even from the outside in, which can deter burglars. Burglars are more likely to target empty homes and unlocked doors throughout the day, making frequent travelers prone to burglaries. With the push of a button, you can set lights on a schedule, as well as arm and lock your home from anywhere, which can help keep thieves at bay.
Unplug Unnecessary Electronics & Appliances
Electronics and small appliances represent a fire hazard, so pull the plug before you go away. While you’re at it, turn down the hot water heater and, if you’ll be away for a week or more, turn off the water supply to sinks, toilets, the dishwasher, washing machine, and refrigerator and turn on your leak detector to avoid the possibility of floods. Finally, disconnect your GPS and remove it from your vehicle; a GPS stored a car parked in an airport parking lot not only tells thieves you’re not at home but will also direct them right to your front door.
Weather-Proof your Home
Adjust your heat or air-conditioning to keep your house or local business cool (around 55º) in winter and warm (about 85º) in summer. This will prevent your pipes from freezing, but will also help save on energy bills.
Talk About Traveling – AFTER You Travel
In the age of social media, it can feel like second nature to share your vacation excitement with your mobile app. Unfortunately, announcing your vacation dates online can also be an invitation to burglars. Here’s how to play the social media travel game: Never, ever broadcast your travel plans online before or during your trip; save the joyful statuses and beautiful photos for after you’re home. In fact, prior to your travels, be careful of discussing plans in public with strangers around. Never change your voicemail to reflect that you’ll be away. And if you post to Facebook or other social media during your trip, make sure geotagging is turned off. Remember, the less information you share, the less likely it is to reach the eyes and ears of would-be thieves.
Advertise and Arm Your Security System
In a study by UNC Charlotte, “60% burglars indicated that the presence of an alarm would cause them to seek an alternative target altogether.” Tried and true, security company security system signs are a great theft deterrent. If you’re concerned that advertising your security company will give burglars a better idea of how to break in, buy generic “this home is monitored by 24-hour security” signs. Install fake cameras. Do whatever possible to communicate, “this is not the home you’re looking for.”
Notify Your Security Company
Finally, and also obviously, the best, most effective way to keep your home safe and secure while you’re not there is to have a high-quality home security system installed and a set alarm. Did you know that homes without security systems are three times more likely to be burglarized than those with alarm systems?
Before traveling for your next trip, call your security company and let them know you’re setting an alarm and you’ll be away. Also, clue them in if you’ll have a house sitter staying on the property (or a neighbor checking in). Leave an up-to-date list of people to contact (including your hotel info, if possible), in case of a security emergency.