‘Tis the season for weekend getaways and family vacations. I love this time of year, as do most people — including thieves. Sorry to sound so gloomy, but it’s true. It is reported that over 2,000,000 homes are broken into each year in the United States. And the highest percentage of home break ins occur during the summer months. Some neighborhoods see anywhere from a 10-18 percent increase in break ins during the months of July and August according to the FBI.
So how do you keep your home safe while you are traveling?
Here are some security tips to keep in mind:
1. Don’t close all of your window treatments before you leave. If you typically have your curtains and blinds open, then leave town with them in their usual state. By closing them, you not only alert any criminals of a potential change in occupancy, you also prevent any neighbors from being able to monitor your home while you are away. Which takes us to number two.
2. Tell a trusted neighbor (or two) that you will be out of town. This is one of the best systems to protect your home. Your neighbors know your routines and how things typically look at your home. A trusted neighbor can tip off the police before a break in ever occurs. Also, if a neighbor is taking out your trash in your absence, make sure that they put the cans back in their usual place the same day as trash pickup. Empty cans sitting out for days is a dead giveaway that no one is home.
3. Don’t turn off the A/C. Although it may sound like a good way to save money while you are away, a silent air compressor on a hot summer day is a clue that the homeowners are away. Consider setting your thermostat to a higher temperature or your thermostat may have a vacation setting that you can utilize.
4. Lock your garage door. If your automatic garage door has a lock, then use it when you are out of town. If it does not, simply unplug your garage door opener. In a world of universal remotes it is simply too easy to drive down the street hitting the button until you come up with a winner.
5. Alert the police. If you are going to be gone for an extended trip, it is not the worst idea to alert the local police department. The more eyes on your home the better.
6. Don’t leave all the lights on. Unless you just want to showcase all of your belongings for the criminal world, don’t leave the lights on 24/7. Invest in some inexpensive light timers that can kick the lights on in the evening and turn them off after bed time. Again the goal is to replicate your normal routine. If you are usually up late, then set the timer to stay on later.
7. Share your vacation pics on social media after you are back in town. Posting up to the minute status updates on social media can be a mistake. Think of it as placing a sign in your yard that says, “We are on vacation. Help yourself!”
8. Not safety related, but still important. Before you leave town, turn off the water supply to your washing machine, especially if it is on the bedroom level or main level of your home. The same should be done for your water supply line to your ice maker (if a shut off is in place). A leaking water line can wreak havoc on a vacant home and can make for an unhappy surprise upon your return.