In another security article, we mentioned that 65% of break-ins occur during the day. That’s because, typically, homeowners are at work and any kids are in school. Would-be thieves are looking for an empty house. Nothing makes your home an easier target than being gone for vacation. Here are our top 14 home security tips while you’re on vacation.
These generally fall into 3 categories: preparing before you leave, make it seem like you’re home, and installing a few security devices. The last is the most expensive, and each has their own advantage.
Aside from jotting down that packing list (to make sure you take your bathing suit to the beach), make sure you do these in the week leading up to your vacation.
Put your mail and newspaper delivery on hold. The USPS will hold your mail while you’re out of town, and deliver it all at once when the hold ends. This means it won’t pile up in your mailbox signaling that you’re not around. Head over to USPS.com, hover over “Receive” at the top, and click on “Hold Mail” to get started.
If you get a newspaper delivered, do the same for each paper. Each one has their own procedure – check their website or give them a call.
Get to know your neighbors. A friendly neighbor has plenty of benefits (need to borrow a cup of sugar?). They’ll likely give you – or the police – a call if someone is loading up your TV into an unmarked van. Only tell them you’re going on vacation if you ask them to actively check in on your home, see below.
Store your valuables and family calendars out of sight. This is good day-to-day practice, and especially important while you’re on vacation. Laptops, jewelry, and family calendars should be kept out of sight from windows. The week-long calendar entry that reads “FAMILY VACATION!!!” in all caps is the green light for potential intruders.
Don’t post about your trip on social media until you’re back. If your social media accounts are public, your excitement leading up to your vacation tells burglars exactly when you’re out of town. Save the posts for your return…and by then you’ll have the pics to make your friends jealous!
Remove spare keys and any hide-a-keys. Hiding keys outside is not a good practice – thieves will find them, it’s just a matter of time. Give them to a friend (maybe to the one who’s periodically checking in, below) or take them with you. Definitely don’t leave them in your home. If someone breaks in and finds the spare, they can let themselves back in later.
Lock your garage door. Many people don’t know their garage door locks! It’s a little bar on the side that goes through the track, preventing the door from opening. Engage this before you leave to make sure nobody sneaks in through your garage.
Unplug non-essential electronics. Not necessarily a safety tip, but definitely good practice. Unplugging TVs and computers will keep them safe from potential surges while you’re on vacation. It’ll also save money since electronics continue to draw a little power, even while they’re off.
Make it look like someone is home
These few tips will give the illusion that someone is home. Sometimes, making a burglar think you’re around is enough for them to reconsider.
Put lights on timers. You don’t need every light on a timer. A few in the living room and bedroom are enough. Set the timers to mimic your usual routine.
Ask a friend to check in periodically. Give them a spare key (like that hide-a-key you shouldn’t have anyway) and ask them to swing by while you’re away. If you’re gone over garbage/recycling day, ask them to roll your bins to the curb. Burglars can easily find the garbage and recycling schedule for a neighborhood. If a house doesn’t have their bins out, it’s a good indication you’re away.
Leave a car in the driveway – even if there’s room in the garage. A car in the driveway is a signal to burglars that someone is probably home.
Install security devices
These last few tips cover the different benefits of installing different security devices. They can get expensive, so you’ll have to determine your own comfort level between budgeting and safety.
Outdoor sensor light. Bright lights directly on entry points are a major deterrent for burglars. A couple of flood lights on motion sensors will quickly scare off a potential intruder.
Keypad door locks. These come in a huge variety, and the bottom line is they’re all more difficult to break than the traditional dead bolt. Some more expensive versions will even alert you when a door is opened. And they’re easy to install!
Video doorbell. There are plenty of additional benefits to having a video doorbell, even while you’re at home. When you’re on vacation, you know exactly who is approaching your front door. If they’re clearly looking to break in, you can even alert your hometown police from vacation.
Home security system. This seems obvious, but needs to be said. A full home security system is the biggest deterrent for a potential thief. Most companies offer monitored plans where they’ll call the police if the system spots a burglar.
Keep Your Home Safe While on Vacation
All these tips, when taken together, can drastically help reduce your chances of being targeted by a burglar. Planning for a trip is exciting, and making these part of your routine will provide peace of mind while you’re on vacation.