Getting ready to go on a trip includes making your home burglar-proof. Like the saying goes, “better safe than sorry!” Here are some tips to help you prep your home for a stress-free holiday getaway.
1. Hire a house or pet-sitter.
Overnight house sitters offer services like looking after your home, yard, pool, and pets everyday depending on your instructions. Make sure to do a background check before hiring them so you know your home is in good hands. If you’re not comfortable with hiring a stranger, ask a friend or relative you trust to look after your place.
2. Ask your post office to hold your mail.
One sign of an empty house is an overflowing mailbox. If you regularly get mail, it’s best to ask your local post office to hold on to it for you until you get back. Don’t worry about paying any fees, it’s part of their job!
3. Put your newspaper subscription on hold.
Having newspapers piled up on your doorstep is another sign that no one’s home. Before you leave, don’t forget to have your newspaper delivery paused. Depending on what newspaper you read, you can either settle your subscription online or call them up.
4. Have someone check your house from time to time.
If you’re not comfortable with an overnight house sitter, you can hire someone to do daily house visits. Ask your friends to recommend someone who can stop by your house from time to time to check if everything is alright.
5. Set up sensors and timers for lights and sprinklers.
A dark house can tip off possible intruders that you’re on vacation, but no one wants to keep their lights on 24 hours a day. You can get a variety of timers that work with your lights and sprinklers that turn on and off at random intervals. There are even timers you can set remotely with your smart phone.
6. Have someone mow your lawn or shovel your driveway.
Find someone who can take care of your garden while you are away. Ask a family member or a neighbor to keep your lawn clean, or have a landscaping company do it for you. In the winter months, you can have someone shovel the snow from your driveway and sidewalk.
7. Get someone to take the trash out.
If you’re on vacation while it’s trash day, you can ask a neighbor to bring your garbage bins out and bring them back in. Having trash sit outside for the whole time you’re away can be one sign that you aren’t home.
8. Be wary of sharing information.
You should be careful of who you share your information with, and where you share it. A lot of break-ins happen because homeowners post on social media that they’re away. Skip the social media check-ins or status updates about your trip, especially if your account is public. As much as possible, keep your profiles private.
9. Unplug electronics.
Keeping your house secure also means keeping it safe from accidents. Aside from saving on energy, unplugging appliances will give you the reassurance that you haven’t left an iron on while you’re away.
10. Don’t leave a portable GPS in the car.
If you’re leaving your car at the airport, it’s best not to leave your portable GPS inside where someone can break in and take it. Many times this has led thieves to the “jackpot”—your unattended home.
11. Install a home security system.
A good security system can alert you of anything suspicious while you are on your trip. Nowadays, you can sync your home security system with your smart phone, and you can remotely check whether the alarm was triggered. As soon as you get an alert, you can call someone to check on your house, though for everyone’s safety, contact your local authorities.
12. Have security cameras installed.
Aside from installing a security system, it’s a good idea to invest in CCTV cameras. If someone enters your home, cameras will make it easier to identify them by face.
13. Light up your surroundings.
If street lamps aren’t enough to light up your area, get motion-sensitive lights that you can set to turn on at a certain time. The lights will be off during the day, but will turn on at night when it senses movement. If thieves pass by these lights, they might think someone is home and hopefully leave.
14. Make use of curtains.
For small windows, make sure to put up curtains before you leave so no one can come snooping around and looking inside. Also, keep your curtains halfway open. This way, it looks like it’s lived in because nothing screams fishy like windows that have been shut all week long.
15. Invest in a security safe.
Buy a good safe which you can keep hidden in your home. Keep all your valuables, like jewelry and important documents, inside it. Having a safe reduces the chances of burglars taking anything valuable. Plus, a safe with a secure combination can stall thieves until the cops arrive.
16. Don’t leave spare keys at home.
Hiding keys around your home is never a good idea when you’re away. Make sure to have all your keys with you before you leave—check all your usual hiding spots. If you’re worried you might lose them while on holiday, leave a spare set with a trusted friend or neighbor.
17. Double and triple-check your doors.
Before you leave home, do these last minute steps. Make sure that your door locks are working perfectly. If you can install two or three locks on your main and back doors, do it. Double and triple-checking doors is always a good step to keep yourself sane while on vacation.
18. Leave a radio on.
A battery-powered radio is a cheap way to make your place seem like someone’s home. If a thief happens to be snooping around, they’ll hear the sound and think someone’s home.
19. Turn down the doorbell volume.
If a burglar wants to find out whether a house is actually empty, they could be bold enough to ring the doorbell. Turning down the volume of your ringer can throw them off and make them think that the homeowners just can’t hear when someone’s at the door. This works best with the previous tip because it creates the illusion that you can’t hear your doorbell because the radio is on.