How to Keep Your Home Safe When You Go Away
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If you’re planning to travel for several days or weeks, you need to take some precautions before you leave to protect your home. Thieves often prowl neighborhoods and social media looking for signs that homeowners are away to find easy targets.
Secure Your Home
Before you leave, check that every door and window is locked. If you have an attached garage, make sure the door leading from the garage to the rest of the house is locked.
If you have a home security system, activate it before you leave. If you’ll have someone stop by to take care of your pets, water plants or pick up your mail, give that person the code and a key. Call the security company before you leave, tell them when you’ll be away and provide the name of anyone who has permission to enter your home.
If more than one person will stop by your home while you’re gone, tell them about each other. If they’ve never met, give each person a description of the other. Before you leave, communicate with your security company about anyone who might enter your home, as this can prevent any misunderstandings, or help resolve problems if a concerned neighbor calls the police.
Don’t Make It Obvious That You Aren’t Home
While you’re away, you want anyone who passes by your home to get the impression that people are there. Dozens of envelopes stuffed in the mailbox and newspapers piled up on the stoop are instant giveaways that the owners are gone. Have a neighbor pick up your mail, or ask the post office to hold it while you’re away.
A house that’s pitch dark in the evening means no one is home. Program your lights to turn on and off with timers without a clear pattern to give the impression that the owners are coming and going and moving around the house. If you can’t program your lights with timers, ask a neighbor to stop by and turn on different lights at a variety of times.
If possible, leave at least one vehicle parked in the garage or driveway—either yours or a neighbor’s. Doing so will make thieves who are scouting the neighborhood think someone is home.
Don’t discuss your trip on social media until after you get back. Burglars often look for people who are talking to their friends online about an upcoming vacation or business trip or who are posting pictures of their vacation in real-time. Those are obvious clues that a house is empty, and could make your home a prime target.
If you’re going away, the last thing you want is to worry about whether your house is safe. Do what you can to make it appear to the casual observer that someone is home. Have people you trust keep an eye on things and handle any necessary chores while you’re gone so you can rest easy during your trip.