Travelers should take extra precautions to keep their valuables safe when on the road. Nobody wants to risk being a victim of theft when enjoying a vacation or when traveling for business. However, many travelers do neglect some safety precautions at home. Any time a home is left empty, whether for a weekend, week, or longer, it’s important to keep it safe. Travelers can improve home security in many ways; several are simple and yet make a huge impact with deterring burglars or vandals.
In the United States, burglaries account for billions of dollars in property losses every year. The F.B.I. reports that 73.2 percent of all burglary offenses are on residential properties. The best ways to discourage burglars is to make it look like someone is home and make it hard for them to enter the home undetected.
Arrange for Mail and Newspaper Pick-up
When traveling for a week or longer, arrange to have the mail, newspaper, and other daily/regular deliveries stopped or picked up by someone trusted. It’s recommended to have someone check the mail box and front porch/sidewalk for deliveries while traveling, even if you arrange to have those items held until your return. Sometimes mail delivery on hold accidentally gets delivered, and if you’re busy having fun on a trip to Alaska, you probably won’t be constantly checking your email for delivery confirmations. If a friend checks the mail box a couple of times, it helps maintain the illusion that someone is at home.
Be Discreet with Trip Details
In this era of social media sharing, it’s common to see friends and family posting on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites about upcoming vacations. People get excited when vacation is just around the corner. However, what’s posted on social media isn’t always secure. Posting vacation dates or even posting pictures while you’re away can be a beacon to burglars if your social media settings are public.
Additionally, it’s a good idea not to leave any details on your voice mail. For business, simply state that you’re out of the office and if possible, don’t mention a return date.
Make a Break-in Hard for Criminals
Criminals target homes that are easy to get into and out of without any hassle or being seen. Never make it easy for burglars. Here are several things a homeowner can do to make a residence less appealing to burglars.
- Prune bushes and shrubs so windows are not obscured. In general, it’s best to plan landscaping with home safety in mind. Walk around the exterior of the home and look to see if there are hiding spots for thieves. Clear away any overgrowth that provides these hiding spots.
- Invest in exterior lighting that turns on at dusk. Motion-sensitive lights are another option and are great for home security whether traveling or not.
- Keep all windows and doors locked. This may seem like basic advice, but it’s important before leaving for a trip to double-check all door and window locks.
- Secure any outdoor valuables like lawnmowers, bicycles, and even grills before leaving for a trip.
- Don’t leave a hide-a-key. Criminals know to look for spare keys and if they find it, it’s easy for them to walk in and take what they want.
If you need to leave a spare key when traveling, consider giving it to a trusted friend, neighbor, or family member.
Set Timers for Interior Lighting; Adjust Curtains
Many homeowners opt to close the curtains and turn on a single light before leaving for a trip. Some security experts warn against this practice. On average, it’s best to leave the home’s curtains or blinds the way they’re kept regularly. Motorized window coverings that can be programmed should be set to open and close at their normal time. Curtains and other blinds can be set to partially open, just enough to let some light in and to allow a neighbor to see in the case of something suspicious.
Leaving multiple lights on throughout the house while away isn’t really the best way to create the impression of someone being home, and it can increase your electric bill significantly. Instead, opt for timers for a few lights in different rooms. Set the lights to turn on and off at different times to help create the illusion of someone in the house actually flipping the switches – remember that you’ll want to let your neighbors know this is the case so they do not call in a false alarm to the police.
Alert Trusted Members of the Community
For extended trips, usually two weeks or more, consider letting others know your situation. Inform a trusted neighbor about your absence – letting local police know might be an option if you’re in a smaller town. If you reside in a planned community, let the HOA know that the home will be vacant for an extended time. Another option is to consider having a house sitter when traveling for longer periods.
By following a few simple home security tips, it’s possible to decrease the potential for a break-in or other type of vandalism when away and traveling for business or pleasure.