Unfortunately, where-ever there are people, there is crime. And while most crime is opportunistic, the holiday season provides fertile ground for professional thieves and burglars.
The last thing anyone wants (or needs) is to come home after a vacation to find their home ransacked. While you can’t guarantee your home is safe, you can minimise the risk by eliminating the obvious signs of a vacant home.
Listed below are 10 tips for keeping your home safe – not just during vacation time, but all year-round. They may just save you from arriving back to a very unpleasant surprise!
- 1 1/ Lock everything
- 2 2/ Check the mail and rubbish
- 3 3/ Give your home a pulse
- 4 4/ Indoor activity
- 5 5/ Get a security system
- 6 6/ Let there be light
- 7 7/ Pay your bills
- 8 8/ Be careful what you put on social media
- 9 9/ Empty the refrigerator/freezer
- 10 10/ Turn off the water supply if possible
- 11 Wrapping up…
1/ Lock everything
It may seem obvious but it’s essential to lock your home every time you leave the house. It’s even more important when you’re away for an extended period. Take the time to go around your home a few days before your departure to make sure all your windows, doors and locks are working properly.
Don’t forget to put all your gardening tools away and lock any storage sheds as well. Many tools – such as shovels, hoes and axes, can make it very easy for an opportunistic thief to enter your home.
2/ Check the mail and rubbish
Nothing says a home is empty like an overflowing mailbox. Organise with a neighbour, family or friends for someone to come by and collect your mail frequently. The same applies on bin collection days. A house with no bins out is a strong indicator that you are away. In the same way, bins left on the street when all others have been taken in, is another big flag to a thief.
Getting your bins taken out and back in creates the illusion someone is home.
3/ Give your home a pulse
Leave a set of keys with a trusted neighbour, friend or family member and have them go inside your home, turn on lights and even put a dog dish outside your front door.
If you have left a vehicle at home, have them move it occasionally. Alternatively, ask if they mind parking their car in your driveway at times.
4/ Indoor activity
What if you don’t have anybody who can come by your home or you just want an extra level of protection? Why not use timers to create that illusion of activity.
You can set up lamps, lights, radios and TVs to switch on and off at various times. This will make your house look lived in.
You can even turn devices on and off remotely now via your smart phone connecting to smart devices in your home. Yes, you can even get smart light bulbs now. But don’t worry… they aren’t going to take over Earth any time soon!
While the smartest security system is probably a big dog, smart security systems that can communicate with you via your smart phone are a great alternative. Such systems have become very cost-effective in recent times.
Investing in a security or camera system for that extra peace of mind should be considered an investment rather than an expense. In fact, many home insurers will offer you a discounted rate if you have such a system.
The other big plus with today’s security cameras is that they do not need to be connected to a power source. The batteries in a good quality camera can last up to six months before needing a recharge!
6/ Let there be light
Another inexpensive security investment is motion sensor lighting. It’s easy to set up a series of motion sensor lights around the exterior of your property to startle any unwanted visitors. Some security cameras have these motion sensor lights built in but those cameras typically need to be hard-wired.
Worried about the cost and inconvenience of an electrician needing to set these up? Fear not! There are quality solar powered options that are remarkably inexpensive! This is a case of where it’s worth paying a little extra to ensure the unit has both a good solar collector and a quality battery! to
7/ Pay your bills
It seems obvious but have you paid the power bill? Is it due? Can you set up a direct debit?
You don’t want your electricity to be cut, potentially rendering your home alarm, motion lights and indoor activity systems useless.
We may love to hate it, but most of us use social media to stay in touch with friends and family. A photo showing you and your family having a great time at that island resort might be just what an astute thief needs!
Even if you are very careful who you share that photo with, they may innocently re-share it!
9/ Empty the refrigerator/freezer
OK – so it won’t prevent a burglary but can you imagine unlocking the door to a foul-smelling home where a power failure has allowed everything in your fridge and freezer to ‘go off’?
While this may not be so important if you have someone regularly coming in to your home, it’s still worthy of consideration.
10/ Turn off the water supply if possible
Nobody wants to come home to a house that has been flooded due to a burst pipe or hose. This is not a rare occurrence! In fact, as your insurer will confirm, there are many thousands of claims each year just from faulty flexi hoses – those hoses that connect your washing machine and dishwasher to the tap.
If the authorities can’t stop crime, you’ve got no chance! But you can minimise the risk of crime – especially burglary – affecting you. While insurance can replace some things, it can’t replace mementos, heirlooms or photo albums.