It's not unusual, when you set out on that trip to warm up down south during the winter, to look back at the house a little nervously. Sure, you remembered to lock the doors, but just how secure are things? What might happen while you're away?
One way to get some peace of mind is to invest in one of the numerous high-tech security systems currently available. Not in the budget this year? Not to worry.
There are plenty of less costly steps you can take to help prevent burglaries. Here are a few that law enforcement officers and other experts recommend. They’ll help keep your home safe while you’re traveling to warmer weather and come in handy all year round.
Be Smart About Getting Ready
- Don't be too obvious with the luggage. Load the car inside the garage, if possible. If not, at least load up quickly and efficiently.
- Hide your valuables, but not in an obvious place. (Hint: The sock drawer is very obvious.) Instead, use a small fire-proof safe that’s securely attached to the floor, the wall or something else that can’t be carried out of the house.
- Be sure to let your neighbors know you'll be gone, and for how long. Or, hire a house sitter.
Make It Look Like You’re Still Home
- Put household lights, and even television sets, on timers, and put your mail and newspapers on hold, or ask the neighbors to pick them up.
- Rather than closing all the window shades and blinds, keep them in their normal positions—closed if they're usually closed, open if they're normally open. Just be sure nothing valuable is visible through your windows.
- Ask your neighbors to make tracks in the snow around your house once in a while. Hire someone to shovel the walks. Leaving during the summer? Have someone mow your grass while you’re gone.
- If you have a second car, leave it parked in the driveway.
Don’t Be an Easy Target for Burglars
- Don't announce your absence with social media posts. Save the stories about what a great time you had until you get back home.
- If someone else lived in your home before you, consider changing the locks. While you're at it, replace the short screws that typically come with lock hardware with longer ones that will extend past the door jambs into the frame of the house. And, if you have a sliding glass door, place a wooden dowel in the track frame.
- Deny prowlers and burglars places to hide by keeping shrubs and trees around the house trimmed back.
- Don't leave tools and ladders outside where criminals could "borrow" them to gain access.
- Take your name off the mailbox. Burglars can use it to look up your telephone number, and then call to see if anyone's home.
Finally, just because you don't have an expensive alarm system or security service doesn't mean you can't fake it. Invest in some inexpensive decals and signage (readily available on the Internet), or even some fake security cameras, and display them prominently. Another option is some kind of "Beware of Dog" sign, even if you don’t have a dog.
With a little thought, a little effort and not a lot of money, you can have better security back home even as you’re off enjoying vacation. Have fun and be safe!