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If your holiday plans include a plane, train, bus or car, you’re leaving your house unattended during a very vulnerable time of year! Burglary numbers usually reach their highest point during the holiday season, with 400,000 burglaries occurring between November and December according to the FBI. Plus, today’s burglars rarely fit the bumbling fool archetype from Home Alone. In fact, many of them are using new technology to their advantage, so it’s more important than ever to protect your stuff!
Here are 6 ways to protect your home from burglary while you’re out of town:
Update your home’s entry points. Burglars are more likely to break in if they think it will be a quick and easy job. Old doors are attractive to burglars because they’re easy to break and usually don’t have a deadbolt. Similarly, rusting locks and decaying window frames make your house a big target. Look at your home from the perspective of a burglar, and take the time to reinforce the weak areas.
Make your home look occupied. Work out an agreement with a neighbor that if snow falls while either of you are away, the person who’s home will shovel the front stoop and walkway of both houses. (If you go out of town for an extended period of time, you may want to bake them a thank-you pie or something).
Audit your valuables. Before you bounce out of town, do a quick audit of your valuable possessions. Know where they are before you leave, so you’ll notice right away if they’re missing when you return. If you feel safer stashing your valuables before you leave, here are five better places than underneath your mattress.
Stop your mail and paper deliveries. Call the post office and ask to them to hold your mail during the dates that you’re away. You’ll be able to pick it up when you’re back in town. If you enjoy cracking open a newspaper in the morning and have The Times delivered every day, call the newspaper and have it halted while you’re gone. The last thing you want is a tell-tale stack of papers on your front porch!
Light up your house. To make your house seem lived in, install a timer in some rooms that will turn lights on and off during different times of the day. Burglars know that it’s common to leave lights on, so they will be more cautious of changing lights than a stagnant light. If you need to buy a timer, we like this 7-day random vacation timer by GE (it’s less than $20).
Be aware of your social networks. Burglars will sometimes use popular social networks to find out if families are out of town. It’s tempting to post images of your amazing trip in real time, or update your status about how much fun you’re having in a foreign country, but it’s safer to wait until after you’ve returned home. Think of it as an excuse to walk down memory lane after your vacation is over.