You’ve just spent a glorious week on vacation with your family. The sun was out the whole time, the food was good, and the kids behaved. Miraculous! As you pull into the garage, though, you realize something seems amiss. The door into the house is ajar, and you’re sure you closed it on the way out. You cautiously open the door, only to realize that while you were away, burglars made off with your electronics, jewelry, cash, etc. The glee from your previous week is wiped away, and you’re left wondering, “Why me?”
It’s scenario that plays out thousands of times each year in households across the country, and world. In the days following, you’re sure to ask yourself, “What could I have done differently?” This article is here to help you answer that question.
There are of course instances where no amount of preparation would have prevented a break in. But with a few simple steps, you can lower your home’s risk of being targeted and infiltrated by burglars.
Note: I don’t mention security systems here, as you either have one or you don’t. It’s not likely you’d get one installed simply for vacation. (If you’re away a lot, though, and don’t already have a system, it’s probably worth looking into.) If you do have a system, just be sure to call your security company and inform them that you’ll be on vacation, so that any alert gets taken seriously right away.
Tips For Keeping Your Home Safe While You’re Away
Ask Someone to Keep an Eye on Things
One of the best ways to protect your home is to be a good neighbor. That is, when you get to know your neighbors and talk with them regularly, you can mention that you’ll be going on vacation and that you’d appreciate their looking out for the place a little.
Don’t necessarily ask them to do a bunch of chores (be respectful of their time and efforts), but it’s no problem to ask that they be aware of anything that might make the house look unoccupied — packages on the front step, a sprinkler system gone awry, etc. They’re the first line of defense while you’re gone, and you can return the favor when they’re away. You’ll also want to give them your vacation contact information, just in case of emergency.
If you’re not at a point of being comfortable with your neighbors, you can also ask friends and family to check up on the place a couple times a week while you’re gone. Again, you don’t need to ask them to do all the chores (unless they owe you!), but just to make sure that things look normal and lived in.
You can also actually call your local PD and let them know you’ll be going on vacation; they’ll often send an extra patrol or two through your neighborhood just to establish a presence. While this isn’t a replacement for asking someone trusted to stop by a few times, it is an additional layer of security.
Install Timers on Your Electronics
A dark house at night for a week straight is a sure sign that someone is on vacation. By the same token, you don’t want to just flip a light on as you head out the door and leave it on the entire time (yes, I’ve done that, and I know other people who have too).
Luckily, there are a huge variety of timers on the market that plug right into an outlet and turn your lights and other electronics on and off at certain times of day.
Most people only think of using these timers on lamps, but having TVs and/or radios plugged into them is a good idea too to create noise and the flickering lights associated with most American homes in the evening.
Be sure to get the variety of timer that works with random intervals. You don’t want lights that turn on at exactly 7pm and turn off at 10pm every night; if someone is watching the neighborhood, they’ll notice. Some models even pair with your smartphone so you can turn certain outlets on and off at will. (Note that many security systems offer this feature as well.)
Have Someone Mow the Lawn/Shovel the Driveway
Two of the biggest giveaways that someone is away from home are an unkempt lawn and a snowy driveway with not the slightest hint of human movement. So in the summer, find a neighbor kid, family member, friend, or landscaping company to mow your lawn (if it’s one of those first three options, paying them in some way is good form; obviously, you’ll be paying the landscaping company), and in the winter do the same with clearing your driveway and sidewalks of snow.
Also, asking someone to take care of any other outdoor chores that might arise is a good idea. For instance, if a storm comes through and knocks some branches down in everyone’s yard, and you’re the only house that hasn’t picked them up, it’s clear you aren’t home. Hopefully these incidences are few and far between, but they do happen. Neighbors are probably your best bet here, as they’ll be the ones to know if something has happened on your street.
Read the Remainder at Art of Manliness