Before leaving for vacation: The burglary prevention checklist

By Higginbotham on July 30 , 2015

iStock_Family vacation

Summer is vacation season, and empty homes are vulnerable to break-ins. Before you take off, be sure your home is well protected against break-ins and theft by following these tips.

Lock up! In 30 percent of home invasions, burglars gain access through unlocked and open windows and doors according to American Modern Insurance Group. Always take a few minutes to check that windows and doors are locked up tight before leaving – whether it’s for the day, a weekend trip or a longer vacation.

Don’t announce your departure on social media. There is no such thing as online privacy. AAA Texas cautions that thieves see homeowners’ gleeful posts on social media announcing their “vay-cay” as golden opportunities to break-in and take what they want. To be safe, keep your absence on a need-to-know basis, and never announce your plans on social media or any online forum.

Keep doors a strong line of defense. Did you know that seasoned burglars look for a spare key under the front mat and doorframe? Don’t make it easy to rob your house by leaving keys where criminals can find them. Install deadbolts in all doors, including the door from the garage into the house. A weak door frame can splinter after a few hard blows, so fortify door jams and strike plates on all doors to keep this barrier intact. Overhead garage doors should lock, and any side garage doors should have deadbolts and no windows. On shed doors, install deadbolts and replace any glass with wood to protect expensive tools and equipment.

Reinforce windows and sliding doors. Install sturdy locks on all windows and sliding glass doors. Window security film can be applied to prevent the glass from breaking when struck.

Shine a light on activity. Install motion-activated lights to spotlight any possible hiding places or entry points around your property, including garages and sheds. Use low-wattage lights in entry areas and set them up on timers to turn on at dusk and off at dawn. Stagger timers throughout your home so lamps and radios come on at different times, simulating normal routines.

Get a dog. Man’s best friend is a one of your best protections against break-ins. Even small dogs can deter a burglar by raising the alarm when they hear strangers outside. Thieves are less likely to target a home with a dog or a “Beware of Dog” sign. Consider adopting a pet or putting up a sign.

Create an “at home” appearance. Hire a pet sitter or ask a trusted friend to take care of your pets, water the flower beds and pick up your mail and newspapers. Hire a service to mow the lawn. Make sure that coupons, fliers and other deliveries are picked up. Stop home mail delivery and prevent identity theft by keeping bank statements and credit card offers secure. Have your house sitter open the drapes and blinds during the day, but first be sure all expensive electronics and valuables cannot be seen through the windows from outside.

Prepare for the worst. Make it difficult for thieves that may gain entry by protecting your most important assets. Make sure computers are password-protected, and carefully hide jewelry and essential documents like passports and wills or put them in a safety deposit box at your bank.

Update your insurance. Last, but not least, be sure to verify that your homeowners insurance policy is up-to-date and your coverage is adequate for any big ticket items you own like electronics, fine jewelry or luxury furnishings. A monitored alarm system will add an extra layer of protection on your home. Check with your insurance agent to see if an alarm system will qualify you for a discount on your homeowners or rental policy.

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Tags: Home & Auto