You say you won’t be home for the holidays this year? Finally taking that long-awaited cruise or visiting family in another state?
It can be great to get out of the house during the holiday season. Just be sure no unwanted visitors get into it while you’re away.
Having a security system to protect your home is a wise investment. And there are plenty of commonsense ways to keep your residence from being a tempting target of thieves on the prowl for unoccupied properties. In fact, according to the most recently available FBI statistics, nearly 400,000 residential burglaries occur annually in the U.S. between November and December. The National Crime Prevention Council says homeowners should be extra-vigilant during the winter months, especially if they have travel plans or if their home is filled with piles of wrapped gifts.
We’ve compiled a list of tips, suggestions, and advice from security pros on how to keep the grinches from stealing your holiday cheer. Put these security measures in place now and you should be able to rest easier wherever your vacation plans take you.
Did you know that burglars like to break into unoccupied homes because, if they’re caught in the act, it can be less of a crime than burglarizing a residence with someone inside? So the more lived-in your home looks while you’re away, the better.
If you’re just itching to let everyone know your itinerary, and then blast them with selfies on Facebook and Twitter so they can see all the great places you’re visiting, forget about it. Skip the photos and location tags, too. Why tell the world you’re gone and your home is potentially vulnerable? Even friends of friends online can see your status, and you don’t always know who those friends are. Wait until you get back, and then tell your circle all about your trip.
If you do have a security system, inform the alarm company that you’ll be gone. Give them the contact information of a relative or friend they can call if you can’t be reached should a break-in occur. Don’t forget to arm the system when you leave home.
Because most burglars live in the neighborhood where they commit their crimes, be extra-careful when bringing holiday gifts or valuable items into your home. If you can’t unload your car in a closed garage, make sure you weren’t followed home from the shopping mall, or no one suspicious is lurking nearby.
Any burglar will know where to find them, so remove any spare keys you’ve “hidden” outside. It’s better to leave them with the same trusted friend, neighbor or family member (maybe all three) who’s going to be regularly checking on things.
It’s fine to leave the refrigerator on, but unplug any items that could pose a security or fire hazard. These include power strips, TVs, computers, and even your Wi-Fi modem/router. Don’t give anyone the opportunity to potentially hack into your personal network – unless you’re using it for remote video monitoring of your security system.
Even if you take every precaution imaginable, something could bad happen while you are away. But it could hurt less if you prepare in advance. Check your home insurance policy and claims process before leaving. Make sure you have your policy number and agent contact info with you. Make a home inventory with sharp photos of everything in your house, and back them up online. Then keep the inventory updated regularly.
No one likes to think about a break-in during this festive time of year. But following some of the tips above can help lower the risk of a robbery while you’re gone. Then, if the worst should happen, you’ll be in a better position to deal with the situation.