An empty house like a personal piggy bank for robbers. When you’re gone for a business trip or vacation, thieves can take their sweet time stealing all your valuables. There’s nothing worse than coming home from a trip and discovering your home has been completely cleaned out. The aftermath of a home robbery is devastating.
But the good news you don’t have to be completely helpless. To make sure that your home is protected from burglars, use these four simple tips.
Do you honestly think that plastic rock that “hides” your extra key is fooling anyone? If a crafty crook is determined to ransack your house for your valuables, they will check all the classic places people hide their spare key: under your welcome mat, in your rocks, and above your door frame. I mean, isn’t that where you would check for an extra key if you were a robber?
Sure, a spare key within reaching distance to your front door is convenient for you, but it’s also equally convenient for crooks. Before you leave on your trip, do yourself a favor and take your spare keys with you.
Having a mailbox overflowing with stacks of junk mail and a pile of newspapers on your driveway is a dead giveaway to robbers saying, “Nobody’s home! Take what you want. There is plenty of free jewelry, electronics, and cold beer in here for you!” When you make it obvious that you aren’t actually living in your house, it’s more likely that that opportunistic thieves will help themselves to all your prized possessions.
Take advantage of USPS’ hold mail service and stop all mail delivery to your house while you’re away. Just tell the postal service your address and how long you’ll be gone, and they’ll keep all your mail at the post office. Then simply swing by and pick it up when you’re back in.
Thieves can tell which homes have nobody home just by checking which ones never turn their lights on. Some crafty home owners simply leave a couple lights on throughout their vacation to create a “lived-in” appearance, but leaving your lights on non-stop doesn’t fool anyone and all it really accomplishes is running up your electric bill.
Outwit burglars by purchasing and using a lighting timer from your hardware store. Program your house lights to turn on and off and various intervals, and you’ll either create the illusion that somebody’s home, or that the house is haunted. Either way, this ruse will scares off robbers looking for an easy target.
Let’s be honest: how well do you actually know all the people who see your Facebook updates? If you’re like most people, your friend list is a combination of family, close friends, and people you barely know. You can never be sure when someone in the latter category has malicious intent. So blabbing about your epic overseas adventure on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Plurk, AOL chat rooms, and on HAM radio might just tip off some crook looking for an easy payday.
Don’t let the extra preparation cause paranoia and ruin your vacation. There probably isn’t a band of thieves lurking down the street, counting the seconds until you pull out of your driveway so they can steal your collection of classic garden gnomes. Chances are, your house will be just fine while you’re away (providing you emptied the trash, now THAT is a more common problem). But why take that chance? Follow the golden rule “better safe than sorry,” be smart about travelling, and you’ll drastically decrease the odds of some criminal getting his grubby mitts on your most awesome personal possessions.