For many, getting together with friends and family often involves travelling. Unfortunately this is also the time of the year when the most break-ins occur. Below are some things to keep in mind or to consider buying before you go away.
- Lock your doors/windows: This should go without saying, the first line of defense to prevent a break-in is to close and lock your doors and windows. Other precautionary measures include placing an obstacle such as a chair behind a back or side door and/or fastening a belt around the door hinge to prevent the door from opening.
- Always notify the police and neighbors: Anytime you are leaving your home for more than a day or two, definitely notify the local police and request they make an extra trip to specifically pass your home. Notifying your neighbors gets an extra set of eyes to lookout for anything suspicious.
- Lights: A pitch black house during evening hours is a tell-tale sign that nobody is home. Consider purchasing a timer for your lights to automatically turn them on and off at set times. Some companies offer “smart-bulbs” which can be installed in place of the standard light bulb. These smart-bulbs enable the owner to turn lights on and off from their cell phone. Installing a motion sensor light outside your house is another good idea to deter un-welcomed guests.
- Empty driveways/parking spaces: An empty driveway for an extended period of time signals that nobody is coming or going from the house. Perhaps offer to let your neighbor park a car in the driveway for an afternoon or overnight to give the false impression that someone is home.
- Freeze your mail/newspapers: Another obvious sign is a pile of mail outside your home. Remember to contact the local post office and any newspaper companies to put a hold on all deliveries to your house. Again notify your neighbors to keep an eye out in case any boxes or packages get left at the door. They can hold the package until you come back.
- Taking out the trash: In many towns, certain days of the week are designated for garbage/recycle removal. It’s rare that people miss a garbage day when they’re home so why not ask a reliable neighbor to pull your garbage to the curb while you’re away. It’s the small details like this that make everything seem normal at your household.
- Shoveling the walkways: The winter season tends to bring snow which is another means of gauging activity at the house. No footprints means nobody is coming or going. Consider offering to pay your neighbor’s kids some money to shovel your driveway while you’re away or hire a service to come and do it for you if snow is expected while you’re away.
** Bonus Advice **
Remember to notify your credit card companies, especially if you will be leaving the country. Credit card companies do a very good job of detecting unusual activity, freezing the account/declining payments, and notifying the card holder of suspicious activity. Be sure to notify them before you leave. All it takes is a simple phone call.