As Memorial Day and the beginning of summer rapidly approaches, families will soon be heading out of town for everything from weekend beach getaways to longer term summer travels.
According to FBI data, the number of home break-ins and burglaries increase significantly during the summer months. Victims of home burglaries lose an average of $1,700 in cash or possessions.
Now is the perfect time to review some safety tips to keep your family’s home safe while you are enjoying a little rest and relaxation. Although there is no such thing as a burglar-proof home, there are steps that can be taken to deter burglars from choosing your home and focusing on an easier target.
Tip #1: Don’t announce vacation plans on social media pages.
Avoid posting anything on Facebook or other social media about leaving town or going on vacation. Although this seems obvious, sometimes folks are so excited about an upcoming trip they fail to consider the potential security consequences of making such plans public.
Tip #2: Don’t allow your house to appear vacant.
Don’t let newspapers pile up, your yard to go un-mowed, or mail and advertisements to go uncollected. These are all signs that no one is home. Have a friend or trusted neighbor tend to your mail and keep an eye on your yard while you are away.
Tip #3: Light up your property at night and use timers indoors.
Studies show that an illuminated property is less likely to be burglarized. Indoors it's best to have two or three rooms equipped so the lights go on and off at random times. It is also a good idea to leave a light in the kitchen on all the time, as the kitchen is one room that tends to have lights on most frequently.
Tip #4: Consider hiring a house sitter.
The best way to make sure your home is safe while you are away is to have someone you trust living in it. If you don’t have a conscientious relative or friend that is available, you can hire a house-sitting service. Although this can be a somewhat pricey option, it assures that all your bases are covered.
Tip #5: Make sure EVERYTHING is locked up.
Check that all doors and windows are secure and locked. It may seem obvious, but often in a rush to leave, this can be overlooked. More than 40 percent of residential burglaries are not forced entries. This means that a burglar was able to enter through a door or window that was left unlocked. If you have a security system, make certain that it is set and all zones are armed. Many systems now offer enhanced security modes for when you are away. Don’t forget to notify your alarm monitoring company (and the police) that you will be away.
Tip #6: Remove your spare key.
If a burglar figures out you're away on vacation, it's likely that they will check your porch for a spare key. So, if you keep a spare key under the mat, above the door frame, or in the flower pot – remove it!
Tip #7: Make a home security checklist.
In order to be certain you have not forgotten to complete any of these steps it is best to make a check-list of things to do before you walk out the door. It takes five minutes or less and will help ensure you do not skip any important steps in securing your home. Making a list may also help remind you of important non-security related tasks such as leaving food for the cat or watering the houseplants.