Finally, the family has agreed on a destination for this year’s summer vacation! With travel plans secure and in place, remember to protect your valuables at home while you are away. There are several steps below to implement to ensure that the your home remains protected and you can truly enjoy that time away without worry.
Consider Hiring a House-or Pet-Sitter
The best way to make sure your house is safe while you’re gone is to have someone you trust still living in it. You may be lucky enough to have a tidy and conscientious relative who’ll move in temporarily and water the plants, feed the pets and pick up the newspapers. If not, there are services you can use for house-sitting and pet-sitting while you’re away. Palladin Consulting Group, who is bonded and insured offers this service to our clients. We insure that all their employees have had a comprehensive background check conducted that includes local, state and federal inquiries. If you are using an outside resource request a copy of the individuals resume and background investigation report when making your decision.
Hold Your Mail
When you’re leaving for more than a couple of days, call your local post office to stop mail delivery until you get back. They can hold mail from three to 30 days. In many locations, you can even submit a stop mail request online. Just enter your address and stop and start dates. This is a free feature courtesy of your friendly United States Postal Service.
Stop Newspaper Delivery
A pile of yellowing newspapers on the doorstep is a movie cliché for a home that’s unoccupied. Stopping the newspaper when you leave town for a while is an easy detail to forget and one that will make you a sure target. If you’re still reading newsprint, make sure you stop service when you leave on vacation. That lonely, days-old newspaper on your driveway is an invitation to a criminal.
Keep Eyes on Your Property
Even if you stop newspaper delivery and mail service, there are still some gotchas that can make it obvious that you’re not around. How about those fliers that peddlers leave on your doorknob, or those periodic yellow page book deliveries? FedEx, UPS and others will still deliver packages that you have ordered. Because you can’t plan for every contingency, have someone in the area check your house periodically. Whether it’s a neighbor or relative, nothing beats having a person check the premises every day while you’re gone. Often time’s local security patrol services will offer “vacation packages” for a nominal daily fee to provide this service.
Make Your Home Look Lived In
An occupied home looks lived in. Lights go on and off, and cars come and go. When you’re away, everything stops. To help create the illusion that the residence is still occupied, invest in timers that turn on the interior lights for a few hours every evening. If you can get a neighbor to take out your garbage and put the cans back after the garbage pickup, it’s another way to send the message that everything is proceeding normally at your house. (Leaving household refuse containers at the curb for a prolonged period of time is another indicator to criminals that no one is home. Not only is this true during periods of extended absence but even when you are home. Remove your refuse containers from the curb after pickup.)
Keep the Landscape Trimmed
If you’re a diligent homeowner who mows his lawn every week, and things start to look overgrown and neglected, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that you’re not around. If you plan on being away for an extended period of time, hire someone to take care of the landscaping chores in your absence.
This seems so obvious, but hey, it’s easy to forget. If you keep a window unlocked to allow the cat easy access, or never bother to turn the deadbolt on the kitchen door, now’s the time to clean up your act. Locking your home makes it less attractive to opportunistic burglars. If you don’t make it easy, there’s a better chance that when you get home, your house will be in the same condition as when you left it.
Show some caution when you talk about your trip. Your blog isn’t the best place to announce that you’ll be away from home for a month. Being aware of who’s around when you discuss your trip in restaurants and even at work isn’t a bad idea either. Make sure that your children are discreet, too. No one is saying that you should be suspicious of everyone you meet, but even a chance remark has the potential to lead to unintended and unfortunate consequences. The less information you put out there, the less likely it is to reach the wrong ears and eyes. While social media pages are a means for us to communicate and stay in touch they have also become a source of information for those with criminal intentions. Minimize the personal information that you post to your favorite social sites.
Pull the Plug
Turning off your garage door is also an effective way to keep thieves from opening it with a universal remote. As well, don’t leave a portable GPS in your car when you use long-term parking at the airport. It will alert thieves that you are not home and give them a convenient map to your house.
Install Added Security Features
Installing a home security system or even just exterior flood lights that run on photo cells is a good way to ramp up security and make your house safer whether you are around or not. To prevent that industrial look to your residence, and maintain curb appeal, consider low volt landscape lighting. Installing low voltage lighting in the proper areas around the perimeter of your home can significantly increase the perimeter security of your home. Criminals do not want to be seen. If your house if well lighted from the street they will move to the house that is dark and offers them the concealment to commit their crimes.
One of the nice things about these features is that they’re working when you’re awake, asleep, on vacation or hosting an outdoor barbecue. They fade into the background as far as you’re concerned, but still make your property less attractive to opportunistic thieves. We strongly recommend that an alarm system be installed that provides sensors on doors, windows, glass break and motion. Good deadbolt locks on all doors is a minimum for standard pedestrian doors. There are other options available for sliding patio doors, French doors and double entry doors.
One final option to consider is the installation of wireless, internet accessible video cameras. There are a number of inexpensive solutions available commercially. We have found that the system available from NETGEAR Vue Zone is inexpensive but highly reliable providing color day time video that converts to low light black and white. There is also a zoom feature available, record on motion with text alert to your mobile device when motion is detected. No matter where you are in the world, as long as you have internet you can view those areas of your home that are under camera on your laptop, tablet or smart phone.