Before taking off on vacation, it is important for homeowners to make sure they will not return to an empty or ransacked home. Experts recommend several tips for avoiding burglaries while on vacation.
Give the impression that someone is always home. When they case neighborhoods for potential targets, burglars look for patterns. If they notice a home’s lights are always off and mail or fliers are piling up, they know the residents are gone. Before leaving, ask that mail be held or forwarded temporarily. Ask a neighbor to remove any fliers or cards from a gate if applicable. It is also important to have lights come on frequently. Set timers for lamps in various parts of the house. Setting a television to record shows and turn on automatically can also be helpful. If there is grass in the yard, arrange for it to be mowed. Leave a few blinds or curtains partially open to give the appearance that someone is home. If there is a land phone in the home, lower the ringer volume so it is not audible outdoors. Also, make sure the volume on the answering machine is turned down low.
Make the home burglar resistant. Doors should be secured with double-cylinder locks instead of doorknobs, and it is important to use deadbolt locks whenever possible. To be effective, deadbolt locks should fit one and one-half inches into a doorframe. People who want to reinforce the locks can also use metal doorframes or panels. These are much more difficult to pry open than wood frames. If there are sliding doors such as patio doors, put wooden sticks or broom handles in the tracks behind the doors. This will make it nearly impossible for thieves to try to pry these doors open. Every window in the house should be locked and secured. Keep in mind that it is also possible to secure windows with key locks.
Do not give burglars a reason to break in. Any valuable paintings, decorations, or antiques should be placed away from windows where they are not easily visible from outside. If there are extra keys to the home, do not leave them above frames, in flowerpots, under doormats or in the mailbox. Think of more creative ways to put them, or simply give them to a trusted friend, family member, or neighbor to check in when needed. Any valuable jewelry or large amounts of cash should be put in a safe deposit box while the home is vacant.
Have a trusted person watch the home. Surveillance systems and alarms are good for catching thieves, but having a person check in on the home is still one of the best deterrents for burglars. Notify a trusted neighbor, friend, or family member about an upcoming vacation, and ask that person to stop in from time to time.
Review a homeowner’s insurance policy. Before leaving for vacation, talk to an agent to ensure the home is adequately insured. Make a list of all personal belongings, and make sure any art or valuables are specifically insured. Making a list is also a good way to have something to identify what belongings were taken in the event of a burglary. Following holidays or birthdays when gifts are commonly received, be sure to discuss any expensive new belongings with an agent. Separate riders may be needed, or these items may need to be named on an existing policy. New computers, jewelry, and expensive art are common examples. If a policy s not properly updated, some items will not be covered if they are stolen