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.
- Avoid describing your travel plans on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, where potential thieves might learn about them.
- Instead of stopping mail and newspaper deliveries, ask a neighbor or family member who lives nearby to collect and save them for you.
- 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.
- Store valuables such as mortgage documents, car registrations, passports and expensive jewelry in a safe deposit box away from home.
- Burglars typically try to kick in the door. Install the strongest locks available.
- 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.
- Turn down your telephone’s ringer and forward calls to your mobile phone.
- 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.
- Keep valuables such as flat-screen TVs, other electronics and expensive appliances away from windows and out of view.
- Set indoor lights on timers to give the impression you’re at home. You can buy these at most hardware stores.
- Set up lights with motion sensors in the front and back and on the sides of your house.
- 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.
- Consider installing a home security system — especially one with a remote monitoring signal that alerts the police or fire department.
- Alert the police if you’ll be gone a week or more; many departments will have officers periodically drive by your house.
- 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.