We’ve all heard horror stories about families returning home from a lengthy trip to discover their home has been broken into or a pipe has burst while they were gone. These kinds of issues can cost thousands of dollars to resolve and are sure to create a lot of worries. But there IS good news.
There are a number of steps you can take to prevent security breaches when on vacation with your family.
We’ve put up the following checklist to help you prepare your home for safety before you leave town and relax while you’re gone. Some of these may involve some effort and planning, but taking these actions now can save you a lot of grief afterward.
Top 20 Ways to Burglar Proof Your Home
1. Get a Monitored Security System
This step should be your first line of defense in terms of home security, both at home and while you are abroad. Many homeowners opt for smart home security systems.
When you have access to your mobile phone, they are perfectly functional, but if you are going somewhere distant or wish to leave your phone at home, monitored home security systems provide an added layer of safety.
The security alarm system will be able to detect movement or if your doors or windows are opened by putting sensors in your house. This will set off an alarm, notifying neighbors and ideally scaring away the burglar, but also sending a message to your alarm provider, who will notify the police if there is a breach.
2. Pause Your Mail Deliveries
An overflowing doormat is a dead giveaway that the residence is vacant. While you are away, you may have a trusted friend or neighbor come in to pick up any of your letters and any junk mail, but only if you are confident in their abilities.
Alternatively, you might request that your postal carrier refrains from dropping off your mail for a brief period of time until you return. You can accomplish this from home by visiting the USPS website and completing a brief online form. They will halt mail delivery to your address and keep it for you until you return.
3. Keep Your Lawn Mowed
If you have a front yard, an easily accessible backyard, or other outside areas, it may be worthwhile to ask a friend or neighbor to mow your grass for you. Unkempt, overgrown gardens, yards, and grass spaces are a dead giveaway of a vacant residence.
You can also ask a neighbor or friend to sweep fallen leaves off your driveway or clear snow if any has fallen, depending on the time of year and the length of your trip. Maintain the appearance of your property from the outside, and no one will suspect that you aren’t actually dwelling in it.
4. Keep Your Vacation Plans Away from Social Media
Posting photos of you and your family sunbathing hundreds of miles from home is an open invitation to would-be robbers and those who wish to harm you.
Checking in at the airport may appear to be a fun way to flaunt your status on Facebook, but it’s really just announcing that your house will be vacant for the next week or two. Keep your photographs and memories private until you’re ready to share them.
You should also double-check that your home address isn’t visible on your social media profiles and erase any posts or party invitations that include your phone number. Except for individuals you know and trust, no one needs to know any of that info.
5. Tell Your Neighbors
Giving your neighbors notice that you will be away for a while is a good method to be sure that someone is keeping an eye on your house for you, even if they are doing it subconsciously.
If they know you’re gone and see anything or someone out of the ordinary, they’ll be more cautious since they know you’re not there. You should also leave a contact number for them if they do not already have one so that they may contact you if they have any suspicions or issues that you should be aware of.
6. Hide Your GPS
It may not have even crossed your mind, but your car’s GPS system may act as a red carpet to your unoccupied house for would-be burglars.
If you leave your GPS on display in your car at the airport or hotel parking lot makes it an obvious target for criminals who will not only break in and steal your car, but they can also use it to drive right to your vacant house and take your possessions. If you have a portable GPS, make sure you don’t leave it in the car while you’re on the road.
If it is built-in then alter the “home” option so that it goes to some random place (such as a park, retail center, or business location) to guarantee that no one has access to your home while you are gone.
7. Don’t Stash Your Key
It might be tempting for many of us who live in reasonably safe neighborhoods, surrounded by trustworthy friends and neighbors, to keep a key hidden outside our home just in case someone has to come in for us. This is not a good idea, especially if you’re traveling abroad for a longer period of time.
Plant pots, doormats, and even gutters are obvious targets for potential burglars, and there is no hiding place they won’t look into while attempting to sneak into your home. Leave your keys with a trusted family member or friend instead.
8. Install a Video Doorbell
These amusing small gadgets may also be used to give an extra layer of home protection. Smart video doorbells allow you to view who is ringing your doorbell from anywhere in the world.
You’ll receive a special alert on your phone and will be able to communicate with the visitor in real-time — instruct them to drop a parcel around the back or to return later, whichever works best for you. Obviously, don’t tell them you’re on vacation!
Some even have motion sensor detectors that will notify you if someone is loitering on your front porch, and even if you lose mobile phone coverage, you will be able to watch the video footage later.
The film they capture can be highly beneficial if you need to report a crime upon your return, and it can also be given to the authorities for additional investigation.
9. Install a Fake Burglar Alarm or Stickers
Many smart security gadgets function remotely, so intruders may not be aware of their presence. A good old-fashioned burglar alarm box on the exterior of your home will inform the world that your home is safe, even if it isn’t secured by a monitored alarm system. These are available online or at hardware stores, and they are inexpensive and simple to install.
The same logic applies to security stickers that may be placed on your windows to alert the public that your property is secure. However, do not rely on only one of these methods to defend your house.
This should only be used as a last resort to dissuade opportunists wandering down your neighborhood. A high-tech security system will still be required to provide complete coverage and security at all times.
10. Install a Sensor Light
These inexpensive and simple-to-install light fixtures are quite beneficial for alerting you while you’re home (or your neighbors when you are not) to the presence of someone approaching your home. You can get them for a low price at hardware stores or online, and they can be turned off when you don’t want to flood your front porch with light.
They are motion-triggered and will simply turn on when someone walks up to your door. They’re also a good deterrent for robbers, who don’t want to be blinded by light while they try to pick your lock or break into your house.
11. Add a Smart Lock to Your Door
Consider installing a smart lock instead of physically giving over your house keys to your neighbors, contractors, or family members. These handy additions allow you to gain temporary entry to your house by utilizing expiring codes.
You can let your pet sitter, neighbor, or other visitors in without having to bother about keys by just texting them the code, which you can then cancel when you get home. This way, you’ll be able to keep track of who’s in your house and when they’re there, and you’ll know they won’t be able to come in unexpectedly when you return.
12. Set a Timer for Your Electronics
Set a timer for your lights, lamps, TV, and radios to keep your house appearing lived in, even if you may be far away. Timers may be ordered online or purchased at your local hardware or grocery store. By plugging them into standard outlets, you can simply plug in your devices and configure the timer to instruct each item when to turn on.
If you like, you may buy electric timers with random settings that give your house a more realistic occupied appearance, making it appear full of people even when it isn’t.
13. Have Someone Watching Your Empty House
If you have a trustworthy friend, family member, or neighbor, ask them to visit your house on a regular basis to check that everything is in order. They should be allowed to come in every few days or so and check back doors, windows, and any other entries.
They can pick up your mail if you haven’t instructed the mail service to delay it, be sure that all of your doors and windows are properly locked, water your plants, and possibly even bring you some milk or other necessities in preparation for your return.
14. Think About Investing in Smart Lighting
Following on from our earlier advice about utilizing timers to turn on your devices while you are away, you might take it a step further and consider investing in smart lights.
Smart LED bulbs include software that links to an app, smart home assistant, or other smart devices, allowing you to automate or remotely control your lights. Many smart bulb manufacturers provide a “vacation mode” as a theft deterrent, which randomly turns the lights on and off to simulate the homeowner’s regular behavior.
It’s also really fantastic to be able to turn your lights on and off from anywhere in the globe!
15. Close the Garage Door
An open garage door invites burglars to take your bicycles, tools, and lawn-care equipment, among other things. If you have a connected garage, they may be able to get entrance to your home through that open door. When you enter or depart the house, make it a point to close the garage door.
Consider purchasing an automated garage door opener or a smart garage door that can be operated from your smartphone and can even alert you when the door is open if you fail to do so.
16. Tell Your Local Police Department
While your trip may not make global headlines, if you live in a small town, it may be worth notifying your local police department that your home will be unattended for a short period of time. In this manner, they may check on it while on patrol (also known as “vacation watch”).
Of course, if you live in a major city or a place with a high crime rate, they probably won’t be able to accomplish this, so don’t worry them with news of your impending departure.
17. Keep Your Regular Cleaner Schedule
If you are among the lucky ones who have household assistance, you should request that they continue to come while you are away. Even if you aren’t there, house cleaners, gardeners, and even the pool guy should continue to arrive on time.
Of course, you should feel sure that you can rely on these providers to be inside or outside your house while you are away, and if you have any reservations, put them on hold, but make sure you don’t tell them you are leaving.
18. Have Someone Take Out The Trash for You
Most individuals will empty their trash cans before going on vacation, but even if you are kind enough to do so, keep in mind that it still has to be collected. To ensure that your garbage cans are removed, ask a neighbor to take them onto the street on collection day.
This not only prevents your home from seeming neglected and abandoned while you are gone, but it also prevents you from returning home to find rotten, stinky garbage cans and a new family of pet rats to greet you.
19. Check Your Household Insurance Policy
Make sure your home insurance is valid and up to date before you go for your month of fun and frolics. If something goes awry while you’re far away, you’ll want to be able to call on your insurance to assist you to fix it when you get back.
Most insurance companies don’t need to know if you’re only going on a brief vacation, but if you’re leaving your house unattended for more than 30 days, you should notify them since it may change the conditions of your policy.
20. Hire a House Sitter
Finally, if you’re worried about leaving your house vacant while you’re away, think about hiring a house sitter.
It might be a trusted friend or family member, or it could be a firm or organization that provides professional home sitting services. Your sitter may take care of typical household activities such as gardening, feeding your pets, watering plants, and bringing out the garbage while you are away, as well as keeping your house well occupied to prevent thieves.