Worrying about your house being broken into while you’re off on vacation can ruin what should be a peaceful and relaxing break. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to protect your home while on vacation. If you follow through on all the tips laid out here, the chances of anyone knowing you’re away at all are slim to none.
I think it’s fair to say that it’s in your best interest to have your valuables protected, whether it may be your beloved family photo or your latest wireless TV speakers. You’ll appreciate the peace of mind knowing it’s all fine.
Well, let’s start.
- Friendly Drop Off
Get a friend or relative to drop you off at the airport instead of hiring a cab or driving service. If that is not an option – which is often the case when you have a plane to catch at 6 a.m. – only use a drop-off service or cab company that you know and trust. Criminals often tap drivers for information about the best places to rob. If you load half a dozen suitcases into a cab’s trunk, this is a sure sign that your house will be empty for the next few days.
- Good Neighbors
It doesn’t matter if you live in an apartment block or on a leafy-green street in the suburbs, cultivating a good relationship with your neighbors is one of the best ways to protect your house when you go on a vacation. When you know your neighbors well enough to ask them to water your interior pot plants during your absence, you can rest assured that they will keep an eye on things for you.
There is a psychological reason for this: your neighbors want the benefit of reciprocity, as well as avoiding any awkward encounters with you in the future if they let you down. That way you can focus on planning for the perfect vacation.
- Electronic Timers
Having no lights on at your house at night is the daytime equivalent of a siren going off to alert petty criminals. Alternately, leaving a porch light or yard light permanently on during the day is also a sign that you’re not there. This problem can be solved by installing timers on your electronics.
There is a wide variety of timers on the market and you can use them on more than just table lamps. You can install timers on TVs and sound systems too. Even set at a low volume level, a TV playing quietly wards off prowlers as they will only see the neon glow of the screen and know to keep on moving.
- Garden Maintenance
Hiring a garden service to mow the lawn or the kid next door to shovel the snow piled up in your driveway will keep intruders guessing if anyone’s at home. If you like to maintain your garden yourself when you’re at home, don’t worry – there are plenty of one-off garden tidy services that you can hire during your vacation time.
Remember to keep one eye on your home town weather reports if you and the family have jetted off somewhere remote. Heavy storms that leave debris lying in the yard is a sure sign you’re not there if it remains where it falls.
- Snail Mail & Courier Delivery
If you haven’t gotten a sign posted on your letterbox or mail slot yet warning pamphlet droppers to not leave vouchers and menus, then do it now. Old fashioned promotional literature is always happening in built-up areas, and if you have them piling up and spilling out of your post box, it’s a flashing beacon to burglars.
Letterboxes in apartment blocks are notoriously small, so if you are going away for a long time and there’s the possibility of snail mail envelopes spilling out of the top of your mail slot, ask your super to keep them for you until you return.
Many folks about to hop in the car for an impromptu road trip, forget about courier deliveries until it’s too late. This is where having the phone number of your building’s superintendent or neighbors saved on your phone can save the day.
- Social Media
If you have seen the movie “The Bling Ring” there’s no need to warn you about the dangers of posting online for the world to see that you are off to the airport/hitting the road/heading out to the backwoods for a month. As tempting as it is to post images of you and the family soaking up the sun when it’s winter back home or skiing in crisp powder when it’s 100 degrees in the shade where you live, don’t. Wait until you are back home and post the images in the form of a story, or make your profiles private before you leave.
And when you can’t resist telling people about your holiday adventures, then try the next tip to protect your home while on vacation.
- House Sitting
Retaining the services of a reliable house sitter is the best way to protect your home, support your local house sitter community, and keep your pets happy. If you are a pet lover, and travel frequently, having someone walk, feed, and love your animals are the real reason house sitters are such a good way to keep things ticking over when you’re away from home.
The best place to find reliable house sitters is on the bulletin board of your local vet. Even if you don’t have pets, this is still the best place to find good house sitters. Anyone who takes on the responsibility of caring for animals is sure to handle the watering of planters and the locking of doors very well indeed.
- Try Breaking into Your House Yourself
This might seem like a no-brainer, but try breaking into your house yourself. Pretend you’ve locked yourself out, and have a go at entering the premises. Sure, a dedicated thief will probably have a break-in kit with them when they pay an empty house a visit.
However, it’s still interesting to see if there are any parkour moves that could get you to the second floor or unprotected windows a person could squeeze through.
There is a devious technique house robbers use to open automatic garage doors. It’s a B&E adaptation of how burglars would use a long, hooked wire through a window to fish keys (car and house) of a key rack. Instead of windows, criminals use wire from a coat hanger or hardware store and snake the wire over and around the top of garage doors to trigger the emergency door release.
You can protect your home by preemptively installing a deadbolt lock on the garage door as a failsafe.
This is yet another reason why it’s a good idea to ask a friend or relative to drop you off at the airport instead of driving and parking. Anyone who sees an upmarket vehicle at the airport knows there’s the house worth burgling at the other end. They break into the car and use the GPS unit to locate your house, and then they can break-in.
There is a trick to getting around the possibility of this happening: set your home address for the nearest store, restaurant, or intersection to your home. You will still get the correct directions for wherever you want to go, but no one can use your GPS unit to find out where you live.
When you start to look at your home through the same set of eyes as a criminal, you might want to think about getting a home security system installed if you leave your home vacant a lot. You will have to vet any home security system provider as carefully as any other service that gets access to your residence.
Read the fine print before you sign any long-term security provision contract and remember to inform your insurers so they can adjust their monthly rates.