Since it is the holiday season, many homeowners may be traveling to relatives or taking vacations. If you are planning on leaving your home for a significant amount of time you should really take a few moments to go through a few extra steps to ensure that your house is well cared for while you are away. Installing a home security system may be the first thing that comes to your mind, but there are plenty of smaller, less expensive steps you can take that are just as (if not more) effective in preventing theft.
So here is a list of things you can do to bring peace mind while you are on vacation.
1. Tell your neighbors you’ll be away.
Even if you are not close with your neighbors, it is important to give them a heads-up when you are leaving town for a week or more. If you are good friends with your neighbors, you should consider leaving a copy of your house key in case of an emergency, or at least a way to contact you while you are away.*Think twice about sharing specific details of your trip on social media. It is better to be safe than sorry.*
2. Use light timers and motion sensors.
Giving the impression that your home is occupied is one of the surest ways to deter theft. Pick up a basic light timer at the hardware store and program your interior lights to turn on for several hours each evening. You can even program your TV to turn on as well.If you don’t have outdoor motion-sensor lights, you should consider installing them before you go away. If you do have them, double check the bulbs before you leave.
3. Hire a pet sitter or house sitter.
Instead of creating the illusion that someone is home, hire or ask someone you trust to actually stay in the house. You could also hire a pet sitter to come by your house once or twice a day to make sure your animal is okay, as well as your house. You can even ask your pet sitter to bring in your mail and water your plants.
If you don’t have a pet, you could do a swap with a neighbor or family member in the area; they watch your house this time, you watch theirs when they go away.
4. Lock it up
It may seem obvious, but sometimes it is easy to forget about windows and doors that are rarely used when you are rushing to the airport. Make sure you leave enough time before you leave to make sure all your windows and doors are securely shut and locked.
5. Secure sliding glass
Sliding glass windows and doors require special care to be really secure. Luckily the fix is a simple one; just cut a wooden pole or thick dowel to fit in the groove of the tracks when the door is shut, and lay it in before you leave. This won’t stop someone from shattering the glass, but it will make your home a less desirable target if a thief can’t easily slide the door open.
6. Keep up the appearance of routines.
If you will be away for more than a week, see if your house sitter/neighbor (etc..), can bring your garbage and recycling bins out for you and back in the next day. Also don’t let mail pile up on your porch or in your mailbox. You can either have someone bring your mail inside or have the postal service hold your mail (for up to 30 days) instead. You can fill out a form online, so you don’t even have to step foot into a post office during the holiday season.
7. Maintain snow or lawn service.
Not only will it be a relief to come home to a neatly shoveled path and tidy yard, but maintaining a normal level of care will help give your house a lived-in look while you are away.
8. Move valuables away from windows.
You may want to leave a few shades open, since it can look rather off to see a house all closed up if that’s is not your normal routine. However, do be aware of what is visible from the open shades when someone is peering in from the outside. Laptops, flat-screen TVs and other pricey gear within reach of a window make an easy mark for an easy burglary.