How to protect your home while away on vacation
You’re finally going on a well-deserved vacation! As you gather up last week’s newspapers, you notice that someone came back from vacation to find their house emptied of everything including the houseplants.
How do you keep from being next week’s front page story? With a little backup.
Even the most secure houses are an open invitation to thieves if you’re gone more than a few days. The first thing you need to do is to not advertise when you’ll be gone, or for how long.
Here are some things you can do to avoid becoming a statistic:
1. Have your mail delivery stopped. Nothing is more inviting to thieves than a boxful of mail to go through. It also sends a flag that no one is there to pick it up. Wait until the day before you leave to have mail delivery stopped. They’ll hold mail at the Post Office until you return. Pick up your mail the day you return and have delivery started for the next day. Better yet, if you have a trusted neighbor who can take the mail in for you, you won’t have to stop the mail and normal delivery won’t signal that you’re away.
2. Set all your inside lights on timers to go on and off at appropriate times during the day. If you can put your outside lights on timers, all the better. Lights going on and off at approximately the same times they normally would makes it look inhabited.
3. Have paper delivery stopped. Five newspapers on the doorstep tells a thief how long you’ve been away. If you can have that trusted neighbor take them in for you, it will look like business as usual at your house.
4. Have someone mow the lawn mid-way through your vacation. A manicured lawn tells people that someone’s still around the house.
5. Have a neighbor park in your driveway or in front of the house. Again, it will give the impression of normal comings and goings if a vehicle is there at times there would normally be one there.
6. Set a radio or TV on a timer. Voices in a house scare off burglars. If you’re really electronically saavy, you can hook up a recording of a dog barking to be triggered by any loud noise, such as a knock on the door. Burglars avoid houses with dogs, even little ones. Even little dogs bite.
7. Invite the neighbors to use your backyard, hang laundry on your wash line, or use your pool while you’re away. Any normal activities will deter would-be thieves.
8. Have a neighbor watch the house. Burglars don’t want to be seen, so if someone is peeping out a window at your house every so often, a burglar will move on to a house that’s not being watched.
9. Tell your neighbors you’re only going away for a few days. Many people who went on vacation came home to an empty house only to find that the neighbors thought the moving van was supposed to be there.
It only takes a favor from a neighbor or a few dollars to hire someone to do some of the above to avoid becoming a victim of crime. If you’ve spent a few hundred or a few thousand dollars on your vacation, isn’t it worth the peace of mind to pay a few dollars extra to insure you have a house to come home to?