How to Protect Your Home During Summer Vacation
It’s summer once again and for many of us that means going out of town to camp in Penticton, hike in the Okanagan, and visit the beautiful island of Victoria. Some of us may even leave the country and venture down to Los Angeles with our families to visit the newest attraction at Disneyland. Wherever you might be heading to this summer, it’s important that your home stays safe while you’re away.
While insurance may cover you from loss of items due to burglary or damage to your home, it can’t replace items of sentimental value and it won’t do much good to restore your confidence or sense of safety. If you are planning a trip away, here are some tips on how to protect your home during your summer vacation:
Lock all windows and doors.
This one should feel obvious, but it’s still worth mentioning. It might shock you to note that, even today, over 30% of burglars are still entering vacant homes through unlocked doors or windows. Sometimes we remember to lock up our doors but forget about securing our windows, or we were in a rush and simply didn’t think about locking up the back door. If you are serious about wanting to protect your home during vacation, your first step is to take note of all the potential ways that a burglar could find their way into your house and make sure they are well locked or sealed.
Install a home security system.
In a study run by the University of North Carolina, over 400 incarcerated individuals who were convicted of burglary were interviewed and it was found that over 60% of them agreed that home security systems were a deterrent.
Most home security systems will provide you with stickers or yard signs to place around your property – on your front lawn and in windows. It’s important that these notices are visible from any potential opening to let the burglar know that your house is secured. Plus, with technology today, it’s easier now than ever to purchase a system that allows you to keep tabs on your home while you’re away – all from the comfort of your phone.
We recommend checking out a local business like Burglar Stop, located on King George Boulevard in Surrey to help you protect your home during vacation. They provide services such as the installation of video surveillance systems, twenty-four-hour monitoring, and offering resources to homeowners on how to prevent home theft.
Secure the garage.
If you have a garage, especially one that provides access to the house, it’s important to make sure that it’s as secure as possible. You can install motion detection lights on the corners of your garage to scare off any suspicious activity as many burglars will scope out sheds or garages due to the increased likelihood of high ticket items being stored in them like generators, tools, and yes, even cars.
It’s also smart to keep valuables out of sight, tucked away or covered. That way, if a potential thief is peering into your garage from a window to see what you might have, they may not see anything of value and decide to move on. Also, don’t forget that if you choose to leave a vehicle out in your driveway (a great deterrent for burglars as it can signal that someone is home), to remove the garage door remote and put it away somewhere safe in the house, or keep it with you. Most burglars won’t think twice about breaking into your car in order to gain access to your home.
Use light timers.
Burglars are more sophisticated than ever. It’s not enough now to just leave your lights on in order to scare off a potential thief. Keeping your lights on while you’re away is one of the oldest tricks in the book and one that burglars know all too well. In a survey done by a news network in Idaho, it was revealed that most burglars saw “lights on, blinds down” as a sign that the home was vacant.
Instead, try using light timers and putting the system on the “random on/off” mode. This turns your lights on and off at different times of the day, mimicking someone being present in the house. Most burglars try to avoid confrontation whenever possible, so if they have reason to believe that you might be home, they typically won’t risk it.
Get rid of the key under the mat.
If you’re leaving your home to go on a vacation, you want to make sure that your house is a challenge to get into. The harder a burglar believes it will be to enter your home, the less likely it is that they will try to. So, it’s counterintuitive to leave that spare key under the welcome mat where it can be easily accessed by a potential thief. The most common spaces to hide these “hidden” keys is under welcome mats, tucked inside mailboxes, under decorative lawn rocks or ornaments, and in plants typically located by the front door.
If you feel uncomfortable leaving home without keeping a spare key behind (especially if you’re prone to losing your keys and getting locked out of your house), we suggest leaving one with a trusted neighbour, friend, or relative.
Keep your neighbours in the loop.
One of the best reasons to get to know your neighbours and get in their good graces is that they can act as home security for you when you decide to go on vacation. Let your neighbours know that you will be out of town and leave them with your contact information should they see any suspicious activity.
Be careful with who you choose to trust with this information, however, as according to safewise.com (an independent review site on safety systems and tips and tricks on how to keep your home and family safe), the typical burglar lives within a 3km radius.
Also, should you choose to have your neighbours keep watch on your property, be sure to let them know who might be coming and going into your home like house sitters, family members, housekeepers, and pet sitters, for example.
Clean up the yard.
One of the largest telltale signs that a home is vacant is a messy, unkempt lawn. Consider arranging lawn care with a landscaping company, like with Atkinson Landscaping located in Cloverdale while you’re away as cut grass can often tell potential burglars that someone is home. Plus, it’s nice to come back from vacation and not have to worry right away about mowing the lawn and doing yard work.
We also recommend putting any valuables away under lock and key either inside the house or in a garage or shed. Items like bicycles, motorbikes, tools, and equipment are desirable to thieves, and if they are out in the open, they are all that much easier to swipe.
This is also a good opportunity to scan your property for anything a burglar might use to break into your home, such as loose tools, a hammer, or even bricks. Make sure that you secure these items inside the home, away from prying hands.
Hire a house sitter.
One of the best and most affordable ways to keep your home safe while you’re on summer vacation is to hire someone to look after your house. Have the schedule vary, as if the sitter is on a very strict routine, it may provide an opening for a burglar. If the schedule is unpredictable and changes often, a burglar may be scared away.
Another positive to having a house sitter is that they can keep the home looking occupied by bringing in any flyers left at the curb, and any mail from piling up in the mailbox – one of the most common signs that the homeowners are gone.
Plus, house sitters can also keep an eye on any potential damages to the home, such as catching any broken pipes immediately and monitoring electricity usage to avoid a high bill upon return.
Some other interesting facts to help you know how to protect your home during summer vacation*:
- Despite popular belief, most burglars will commit their crime within daylight hours – typically between the hours of 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, especially in a residential neighbourhood. During these hours, most of us are at work and if we have children, many of them are in some form of offsite childcare. Plus, many of the neighbours are often not around as they, too are at work.
- Most burglars agreed that if an alarm went off while trying to enter the home, that they would leave the scene immediately.
- The majority of burglars said that, aside from a good security system, one of their largest deterrents was hearing a T.V. or a radio on inside the house. If you are reading this article to learn how to protect your home during summer vacation because you plan on going away soon, or in the near future, it might be smart to leave the T.V. on in order to scare away potential thieves.
- Most burglars would rather enter the premises through a door than a window. Shattered glass is something that piques the interest of neighbours, but a loud bang from breaking in a door has a higher chance of being overlooked.
- Burgars look for homes that are “easy targets” and most burglars can be in and out of a home within ten minutes.
- As burglars don’t want to be seen by the public eye, houses with large bushes or shrubs can be appealing to the break-and-enter specialists. Try making the entrances to your home more visible by trimming down hedges and shrubs to below eye level.
- Burglars tend to go for the master bedroom first and then will quickly sweep the rest of the house. Consider keeping valuables in different rooms and spreading them out within the house into strange or typically overlooked locations like in shoes or even in garbage cans when you leave for vacation.
*Sources and statistics pulled from:
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