Summer vacation is a time to relax, get out of the house, explore new places, and have fun. While you may be on vacation, crime doesn’t take summer off. According to the FBI’s statistics, the crime rate actually increases during June, July, and August. The causes vary, but with so many people traveling out of town, the opportunity for thievery and tomfoolery certainly presents itself.
That doesn’t mean you should spend your entire summer barricaded in your home. Here are ten ways you can protect your home and have some peace of mind when you’re enjoying your summer vacation.
1. Make your home look lived in.
If it looks like people are home, burglars are less likely to break in, so do what you can to make your home look like you’re still there to outsiders. Install motion sensors to your outdoor lights and use timers on all your lights indoors. However, the latter can get unconvincing, particularly if a potential robber sees that the lights come on at 7:00 and turn off at 10:30 every night. Use a varied schedule, or find timers controlled by mobile app.
Make sure you stop your mail and newspaper deliveries or ask a neighbor to pick both up for you during your time away. A bursting mailbox is a giveaway that you’re not home. Furthermore, during longer vacations, make sure your lawn and exteriors are well-maintained. Above all, don’t leave notes on the door.
2. Hire a housesitter.
The best way to make your home look lived in is to have someone actually live there while you’re away. Hire someone you trust to stay at your home. This person can check for deliveries, get your mail, water your plants, open your curtains, move the car every so often, and ensure the general cleanliness of your home.
3. Be careful of social media.
Social media makes it easy to connect to friends and family, but you never know who else is visiting your page or reading your status updates. In the digital age, many burglars actually use social media platforms to identify safe targets simply by searching for locals who posted statuses about being “out of town” or “on vacation.”
The best solution is to not post about your vacation on Facebook or Twitter until you get back. Barring that, make sure your account has appropriate privacy settings. If you must keep your account public, turn off your location status, both for your home and for where you’re vacationing.
4. Don’t leave valuables in plain view.
Take a walk around your property. Briefly glance through doors and windows. Do you have any valuables in plain sight? If you see them then a burglar can see them. Money, jewelry, credit cards, any form of personal identification, and electronics are extremely tempting to burglars. Keep them out of sight while you’re out of town.
5. Invest in a safe.
The best way to keep your valuables safe and out of site is to invest in a solid, fireproof safe. You can find a safe large enough to fit all of your important and irreplaceable items—expensive jewelry, family photos, financial records, your computer, artwork, musical instruments, weapons, and more. You might find that several safes work better for you than one large one—every homeowner has their own preferences. Furthermore, make sure you place the safe somewhere that isn’t obvious. The closet in your bedroom is the first place a burglar will check.
6. Check for easy access points.
Be aware of any easy points of access. Don’t assume that burglars won’t see that low, scalable wall. Furthermore, don’t keep any ladders outside your home. You may as well give them the key to the front door!
7. Lock your doors and windows.
You might roll your eyes and think, “no, duh,” but as it turns out, not everyone is so vigilant. A large percentage of burglaries occur without forced entry. Don’t give a burglar the opportunity to prance into your home so easily. Lock all your doors and windows, including basement windows and doors leading into your home from the garage. Make sure the garage door cannot be opened, which may mean using a padlock or disconnecting the garage door opener.
8. …but also use good locks.
Knob locks should not be the primary locking mechanism on your door. They are designed more for control than security and can be easily opened with a credit card. Invest in dead bolts on all your exterior doors. They take much more effort to break into, potentially too much for the average crook. Sliding glass doors can be forced open, even when locked. Place a wooden or metal rod in the track to prevent entry.
9. Consider a home security system.
Home security systems are designed to scare the thief and notify you and local law enforcement if an unauthorized visitor enters your home.
10. Advise police and your security system company that you won’t be home.
Many police departments will take the time to patrol your home if you inform them that you’ll be gone, and nothing scares criminals like the sight of a police car.
With these tips, you can enjoy your vacation without worrying about what’s happening back home. Have fun and stay safe.