Whether you’re planning a Caribbean vacation getaway or a trip to visit relatives this holiday season, keep in mind that an empty house is a tempting target for a ne’er-do-well. (Such a fun word, that I’ve never been able to use before!!) A little common sense and some careful planning can reduce the possibility that your home will be broken into while you’re gone.
* Check your first line of defense.
Use sturdy locks on all doors and windows. And, most importantly, check them before you leave. Repair any broken glass or locks.
* Enlist the help of a trusted neighbor.
Tell one neighbor your itinerary. Tell them when you’re leaving and about when you should be home. That person should have a key to periodically check on the house and a number where you can be reached in an emergency.
* Don’t broadcast your plans.
Especially in the era of social media, never ever post your travel plans on Facebook. According to the New York Times, tech-savvy thieves are taking advantage of this and the ability to google your address. Seriously, type in your full name and state, and ask Google to find your address. Mine came up, correctly, in seconds. So Facebook says you’re on another continent and Google says “here’s her home.” What else does a burglar need? An invitation?
* Never let the house appear empty from the street.
Stop your newspaper delivery. Have your neighbor pick up your mail and any packages left on the front porch. Arrange for someone to mow the lawn, rake leaves and clean the yard if you’ll be away for an extended period. Ask your neighbor to place garbage cans at the curb on normal pickup days and put them back after the garbage pickup
* Your home shouldn’t seem empty on the inside either.
Plug in timers to turn lights and even a television on and off at appropriate times. Leave your blinds, shades and curtains in a normal position. Don’t close them unless you would normally do so while at home.
* Don’t give thieves alternate ways to enter your home.
Secure storage sheds, attic entrances and yard gates. If you have a basement exit (we have huge cellar doors) be sure they’re locked as well.
* Don’t leave valuables in plain sight.
Consider locking valuables in a bank safety deposit box. If you do leave valuables at home, make sure they are engraved. This simple precaution will allow stolen property to be easily identified and returned to you if recovered later.