Homeowner's Academy

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Protect Your Home While on Vacation

by BROOKE GOLD HASSON | Nov 19, 2013

holiday-traveiling-200x300Will you be traveling this holiday season?  

The holidays are a fun anticipated time to enjoy with friends and family.  Many enjoy vacations or traveling this time of the year.  Perhaps you’re going to head somewhere tropical, hit the slopes, or just head to your mother in law’s.   Either way - while you’re away enjoying yourself - criminals also look forward to the holiday season and to helping themselves to your home.  It means more homes are left unattended and a great opportunity for them to swoop in when you are out.   People’s Trust Insurance wants you to enjoy your vacation, so follow these guidelines before you go for a less stressful time away.  

  • Before traveling, contact your local law enforcement agency and ask to have your home placed on “vacation watch.”  This is typically for when you will be away longer than 1 week.  Not for an overnight or weeknight.  Most municipalities offer this service. The nearest patrol officer will ride by your home for a safety check once during their shift. Be sure to notify authorities when you have returned. Note, please do not call 911 to discuss this service. A non-emergency number should be listed in your phone book.
  • Try to make your house look lived in while you are away. Place your lights on timers and have the lights come on when you are normally home.  You can stagger the timers in the house so you have lights in the living room during the early hours in the evening and in the bedroom later in the evening.   
  • Stop your mail and newspaper or ask a friend or neighbor to pick it up. Don’t forget to stop deliveries from UPS, FedEx, etc. as well.   Not only are boxes by your door sure signs you are not home, they are also easily taken!
  • Do not Facebook, Twitter, and announce your vacation plans to everyoneYou never know who might be taking note of your travel plans. Don’t mention your trip on Facebook or Twitter until you have returned. Ask kids not to discuss holiday travel plans at school.  Don’t post your vacation photos while you are on vacation either- this is a tip-off that you are not home.
  • Silence the ringer on your home telephone and do NOT change your outgoing message to say you are out of townOne trick of the criminal trade is to stake out a house and call the phone number. If the phone rings and rings with no answer it is a safe bet no one is home. If the phone doesn’t ring at all, crooks may suspect they are dialing the wrong number, or someone is home and using the phone. Do not mention your travel plans on voicemail or answering machines, this is a sure tip-off for criminals.
  • Remove garage door openers from cars parked in the driveway. It is a good idea to leave a second car parked in the driveway, but be sure to remove the garage door opener. Burglars can easily bust out a window and open your garage with the click of a button. Make sure you don’t leave any valuables in your car.
  • Lock garage entry doors and all doors and windows in your home. If you live in a home with an attached garage, lock the door from the garage to the home when leaving for vacation. Garage doors have been known to malfunction, or be manually forced up, allowing access to your home. 
  • Trim shrubbery and trees close to your home. Overgrown shrubs provide the perfect cover for a burglar working to pry open a window. Trees can also be used as cover to peer into windows.
  • Do not leave remnants of Christmas/Hanukkah morning by the curb. Large appliance boxes and containers are a sign Santa was really good to someone in the neighborhood! They are also a sign to thieves that the house just got a new plasma television for Christmas. Break down boxes and put them in cans or black garbage bags to conceal the products that were inside them.
  • Remove your spare key.  While we don’t ever recommend hiding a spare key outside, if you have one that plastic rock isn’t fooling anyone.  If a criminal figures out you’re away on vacation, it’s likely that he or she will check your porch for a spare key. So reach under the mat, into the mailbox, above the door frame or into the flower pot and remove your spare key before you leave on your vacation.

This Blog is sponsored by:
People’s Trust Insurance Company