How safe is your home while you’re away on vacation?
It’s not a nice question to answer, is it? Nobody wants to imagine their home being broken into at any time, but there’s something particularly heartbreaking about coming back from a wonderful, relaxing trip to find your property violated.
With that in mind, apart from ensuring that your vacant property security is on point, what steps can you take to minimize your risk of being burglarized while you’re on vacation?
Make sure the property looks occupied
Criminals may take a slower approach to burglary, investing time in staking your property out or watching it over a couple of days. Leaving your home in a condition that screams ‘owners away on vacation’ may make it more vulnerable than it has to be.
Take the following steps to minimize your risk:
- Mow the lawn before you leave, and tend to your flowers to ensure the garden appears to have been used recently
- Cancel any daily deliveries, such as newspapers and milk; several of these occupying your front step will be a giveaway
- Install a timer on your lights, so they will come on at scheduled times during the day and evening
- Don’t leave any notes on your front door with delivery instructions for any packages you may be expecting – notify them that you won’t be home in a subtler way (email etc.)
Check your locks
Make sure you check your door and window locks are secure. If any are starting to appear too loose or weak to withstand a few swift kicks, it’s time to get them changed.
Run a quick sweep through your property, and call professional locksmiths to fix any issues before you go away
Never leave valuables in plain sight
This is an obvious rule, but it absolutely must be followed.
Make sure you keep any valuables packed up securely, well away from windows or doors. However, don’t store goods in the first place that occurs to you – because it will likely occur to a thief, too.
You might actually find it’s easier to simply leave the most valuable items with friends or family while you’re away. Failing that, hide them in hard-to-reach places to avoid the hands of more opportunistic burglars lacking the time to be thorough.
Avoid putting vacation plans across public social media
Never announce your vacation plans in explicit detail on your social accounts, unless your privacy settings are at the highest level possible.
You don’t know who may have the foresight to browse your social profiles, or the skills to actually hack your accounts. If you must tell people you’re going away on social media, never provide exact dates or say how long you plan to be away.
Ask a friend to check in
If you’re going away for a quick weekend break, you may not need to ask a friend to drop by. However, it’s well worth doing for vacations of a week or more.
Invite a friend or trusted neighbor to check on your property once a day or every other day. They don’t necessarily have to stay for hours on end, but they should try to put the lights on at different times, put your garbage out, water your plants, and generally ensure the property looks inhabited.
Be sure to move that spare key
It’s common behavior to leave a spare key in a discrete location, such as inside a fake rock or above the porch. So common, in fact, that criminals are likely to check the usual hiding places before they attempt to break and enter.
Don’t leave a spare key within range of your home while you’re away. Leave it with a friend or relative.
Don’t rush to keep your curtains closed
You might close your curtains before you leave for your vacation without much thought: you don’t want just anybody to look in through your windows and study your home while you’re away, do you?
However, leaving your curtains shut for days can send a clear signal to would-be burglars, especially in conjunction with other telltale signs (a pile of newspapers at the front door, no lights etc.).
If you leave your curtains open, neighbors, friends, and (possibly) patrolling police will be able to look in to check all is well.
The key is to do whatever you usually would, as criminals familiar with your street may notice any change in routines.