Summer vacations are a wonderful opportunity to get away from the normal stresses of home and soak up the sun. Whether you head upstate to visit relatives or fly to a white sunny beach somewhere far away, your home will be waiting empty until your return. Unfortunately, while you’re enjoying your summer fun, criminals may be casing your home.
Summer vacations are the ideal time for a burglar or vandal to take advantage of your absence and some go out of their way to attack homes of professionals who take a week or more out of town during the summer. To help you protect your home, your assets, and your peace of mind we’ve put together a quick summer vacation security checklist. Using one or more of these methods can significantly increase your home security and decrease your chance of vacation home invasions.
Don’t Announce Your Exact Out-of-Town Dates
Social media and online calendars make it all-too-easy to share the exact dates you’ll be out of town. It seems practical to tell friends and clients when you’ll be out and when you’ll be back. But this is also information that forward-planning burglars love to hear. In fact, it’s not uncommon for home invasion criminals to skim social media for shared vacation dates.
To a burglar, these dates are not “when you’re available” but rather, when you’ll be away and unable to defend your home. So don’t announce your exact vacation dates online. Keeping it vague and being unclear if every family member is going can reduce your chances of becoming a vacation vacancy target.
Lock Doors, Windows, and Gates
If your neighborhood usually feels safe, you may be in the habit of leaving the back door unlocked or the yard gate unlatched. This may be safe enough when everyone’s home, but not when the house will be empty for days or weeks. Before you leave the house, be sure to check every possible entrance. Latch and lock the backyard gate. Latch and deadbolt every home door that leads outside the house.
Make sure your windows all close completely and latch to lock them shut. If you have a broken window lock, there’s a good chance a replacement is easy to acquire and install.
Leave Your Hide-a-Key With a Neighbor
Experienced home invaders also know how to watch for where you hide your spare key. Whether it’s under the Welcome mat, in the flower pot, or above the doorsill, criminals know how to check all the usual places, all the nearby places, and where they may have seen you retrieve the key from before.
Of course, you still want an emergency key just in case yours somehow gets lost during your vacation. The solution is to leave your hide-a-key with a neighbor. Get their permission to leave your key underneath one of their flower pots, under their welcome mat, or with the neighbor themselves. This way, it’ll be there when you need it, but not available or obvious to home invaders.
Set Your Lights on a Daily Timer
Home invaders don’t like to risk encountering residents, which is why they schedule attacks for when you’re on a summer vacation. However, if the house appears to be lived-in when criminals know you will be out, they won’t attack. The best way to achieve this is to mimic the kid from Home Alone: simulate a lived-in house whether or not anyone is inside.
Fortunately, you don’t need the lifesize paper cutouts to mimic a resident. Instead, just put your lights on a daily timer. This way, your lights will turn on and off throughout the day as there were a resident living inside.
Use Door and Window Alarms
Even if you don’t normal use an alarm or have an integral home alarm installed, you can still secure your doors and windows during the vacation itself. There are now smart security sensors that work much the same way a garage door sensor does: it casts a laser. When you lay a door or window sensor down, you can protect an aperture through laser connection. If the laser is sending all the way to the receiver, everything is fine. But if a door or window is opened to break that laser connection, an alarm can go off and you will be alerted to the home entry.
Install a Smart Home Security Camera
In fact, you can even make it possible to monitor your home via a camera from anywhere in the world. Whether you’re vacationing in the Great Lakes or on the Great Wall of China, a smart security camera gives you this power.
Smart security cameras connect to your wifi network which, in turn, connects to the internet as a whole There will be a private website where you can log into your camera and see exactly what it sees through an app on your phone. Motion detection features can also ping you in the event of unexpected activity.
Consider Hosting a House-Sitter
Finally, consider asking someone to stay in the house instead of leaving it vacant. An empty home is a temptation, but a house-sat home is usually too much trouble for criminal home invaders to bother with. You have many options for house sitting. Some hire a professional to house-sit for the duration of their vacation.
But you can also offer to host a friend or relative in the home instead. In return for keeping your home safe and possibly feeding your cats, a hosted homesitter can enjoy your television, swim in your pool, or even vacation-swap to vacation in your home while you vacation in theirs.
Without a hired professional or house-sitting friend, you might also contact a neighbor. Ask them to keep an eye on your home and to check in twice a week or more to ensure everything is fine.
Hire a Pet Sitter or Plant Waterer
Even the most minimal activity can serve to keep home invaders at bay. If you don’t have anyone to house-sit full time and don’t have your wireless security set up yet, you can always simply hire a visiting petsitter or plant waterer. If your pets need regular food and walks, or your houseplants need to be watered once a day, these needs can double up to act as home safety.
A pet sitter or plant waterer coming by regularly will show that the house is not empty and is, therefore, not so easy a mar.
Summer vacation is a time when you should be able to relax fully without worrying if someone is tagging or stealing from your house back home. Using these tricks, you can keep your home safe from invaders and soak up the sun at the same time.