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Burglar picking a lock

15 Ways to Reduce the Risk of Being a Burglary Victim

....especially while you're on vacation.

If you’re planning a vacation, protect your home and possessions from burglars with these tips. And if your children and grandchildren are traveling, share these tips with them.

  1. Avoid describing your travel plans on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, where potential thieves might learn about them.
  2. Instead of stopping mail and newspaper deliveries, ask a neighbor or family member who lives nearby to collect and save them for you.
  3. Consider hiring a house sitter, which has a double advantage if you have pets: You won’t have to put the dog or cat in a kennel, which can be traumatic for them, and your house won’t be left empty.
  4. Store valuables such as mortgage documents, car registrations, passports and expensive jewelry in a safe deposit box away from home.
  5. Burglars typically try to kick in the door. Install the strongest locks available.
  6. Thieves usually target homes with dense shrubbery around them, to hide their entrance. Keep trees and shrubs cut neatly so that doors, windows and other break-in points are in the open and clearly visible.
  7. Turn down your telephone’s ringer and forward calls to your mobile phone.
  8. If you have a lawn service, keep it going while you’re away; if not, hire someone to cut the grass if you’ll be gone more than a week.
  9. Keep valuables such as flat-screen TVs, other electronics and expensive appliances away from windows and out of view.
  10. Set indoor lights on timers to give the impression you’re at home. You can buy these at most hardware stores.
  11. Set up lights with motion sensors in the front and back and on the sides of your house.
  12. Secure sliding doors by placing a wooden pole or dowel in the sliding track to prevent it from opening even if the lock is broken.
  13. Consider installing a home security system — especially one with a remote monitoring signal that alerts the police or fire department.
  14. Alert the police if you’ll be gone a week or more; many departments will have officers periodically drive by your house.
  15. If there’s a neighborhood watch group, be sure to join it to ensure more friendly eyes are watching your property.

Not all break-ins can be prevented, of course, but these steps can help make your house a less desirable target for thieves.

Originally published in Inside Personal Finance.

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