When you go away, be it for a long weekend or a two-week marathon vacation, the threat of burglary often sneaks into mind. And yes, while you shouldn’t let your travel excitement blind you to the threat, you also shouldn’t let your fear of thievery spoil a much-anticipated getaway. That’s what home security companies are for.
So go ahead, plan with abandon. Get excited. And in the meantime, take a few precautions. Get your home ready for your time away. Install a home security monitoring system and follow our 10 burglar proofing tips below to keep your home safe, secure and protected, and then go enjoy your time away. Have a great trip!
1. Create the Illusion of an Occupied Home
You know what they say: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In that vein, one of the most important things you can do while you’re away is, well, to pretend you’re not away. There are a few ways to go about this, but the safest – and simplest – is to hire a pet or housesitter. (Pro tip: If you have a few pets, a petsitter can be more economical than boarding at the vet.) You could also hire a neighborhood kid or ask a friend to check in. MAC also offers a leak detector to watch over water pipes.
The reason we recommend a housesitter and not just live video is because there’s more to an occupied home than someone occupying it: If you normally mow twice a week, you should (via your housesitter) continue to mow twice a week; if you normally close the curtains at night, you should continue to close your curtains every night; if you normally remove empty trash cans from the curb after trash day, you should continue to remove empty trash cans from the curb after trash day. You get the drift.
2. Talk to your Neighbors and Local Businesses
Even if you hire a housesitter, clue some trusted neighbors into your absence. They’ll keep their eyes open for suspicious activity and, in the absence of a housesitter, help remove telltale flyer buildup at the front door, park a car in your driveway, pick up packages, and complete other small tasks to help your house seem occupied. Be sure to leave an emergency contact list with your closest neighbor.
If your community runs a neighborhood watch program, be sure to notify them that you’ll be away and ask that they keep an extra eye on your home.
3. Hold Your Mail (& Newspapers)
We know, we know – we sound like a broken record. But at the price of repetition, I’ll say it again: you don’t want your house screaming, “I’m unoccupied!!!” With that in mind, you definitely don’t want a growing pile of mail, magazines and newspapers pouring out of your mailbox and piling up on the lawn.
Luckily, this is mostly an easy fix. Just contact the USPS and ask them to hold your mail; it’s free for 3-30 day periods. (You can even request a mail hold online.) Call newspapers and pause service while you’re away. But keep in mind, other things can also pile up on the doorstep: packages from UPS or DHL, phonebook deliveries, door-to-door flyers, and more. If you don’t have a housesitter, ask a neighbor to keep your front door clear of these burglar dead-giveaways.
4. Turn on Timers
If no one’s staying at your house, invest in some timers. Set your lights (including outdoor floodlights), TVs and alarm clocks to go on (and off) at your regular times or in response to motion detection. Believe it or not, well-timed timers can fool even observant would-be thieves.
5. Lock Up (& Hide the Hide-a-Key)
Okay, telling you to lock up before vacating the premises may seem obvious, but bear with us. Yes, of course you want to lock your doors and windows – but I’m talking about a little more than that!
First, start by turning every, single deadbolt in the house. Next, disconnect or disengage your garage door, and secure it shut with a combination lock. (This also prevents burglars from using universal garage door-openers to sneak into your home.) Lock, block and/or secure pet doors large enough for a person to crawl through. And then, put sensitive documents, jewelry and valuables into a fireproof safe.
Finally, remove your spare key. Yes, really. The last thing you want is for a savvy burglar to figure out you’re away, and then find your spare key. And really, that faux rock (or even plastic dog poop container) isn’t fooling anyone; thieves are crafty and know all the tricks. So ditch the hide-a-key and hand the spare over to a neighbor, at least for the time being. Just remember that with home automation you’ll be able to keep an eye on everything with the push of a button.
The above advice is great start to keeping your home safe while traveling, but there’s even more to come. Stay tuned for an additional five tips, coming soon!