With summer break on the horizon, many of us have plans to go out of town on vacation or to visit family and friends. An empty house can become an easy target for criminals. In fact, according to the Insurance Information Institute, the majority of break-ins occur during the prime vacation months of July and August. Here are some steps you can take to protect your house and reduce the risk of a break-in while you’re away:
Ask a trusted friend or neighbor to help keep an eye on your house and to collect your mail and/or newspaper. If this is not possible and you’ll be gone for more than a few days, then notify the post office to hold your mail to prevent an overflowing mailbox.
Keep vacation announcements and details to a minimum on social media. It may be tempting to let the world know about your upcoming long-awaited vacation; however, you never know who may be reading your Facebook statuses, Twitter updates, etc.
Maintain the appearance that someone is home. A dark house at night, an overgrown lawn, and an empty driveway are a few things that may tip off burglars that no one is home. If possible, set your lights on a timer so they will turn on and off automatically. Schedule lawn maintenance if you will be away for a while to prevent grass and plants from becoming overgrown. Park a car in the driveway to make it appear that someone is home.
Leave your curtains as you would normally keep them but remove valuables from view. Closed curtains may keep criminals from seeing inside your house; however, it may also prevent neighbors and police from seeing what’s going on inside. Having your curtains closed when you normally have them open may be a noticeable hint that you aren’t home.
Remove your spare key. If you normally keep a spare key outside your front or back door, bring the key inside to prevent criminals from potentially finding it.
Lock up valuables. Before you leave, make sure to lock up expensive jewelry and valuable documents (deed, wills, and other sensitive documents). This way, if there does happen to be a break-in, then your most valuable possessions can still be protected.
Bonus Tip: Unplug your electronics. Not only will unplugging unnecessary appliances reduce your risk of an electrical fire, but doing so will also help save you money on energy costs. This goes for large electronics such as TVs as well as small appliances such as toasters and microwaves.