Summer Vacation’s Here! Protect Your Stuff While You’re Gone

Summer isn’t just a time for playing baseball and vacationing in exotic destinations. It’s also a time when burglars get busy to target homes – hoping to score valuable loot.

The FBI reported that more than 2.1 million burglaries occurred nationwide in 2011. Burglaries accounted for 24.1 percent of all property crimes. Victims suffered an estimated $4.8 billion in property losses — roughly an average of $2,185 per burglary. Aside from stealing valuables, electronics and other possessions, burglars also use home break-ins as an opportunity for identity theft, taking items like social security cards, passports and other personal information.

It comes as no surprise that purchases of home security systems are on the rise in an effort to deter burglars. More than 18 percent of American households use professionally monitored security systems. It estimated that ownership number will rise to 30 percent by 2020.

Installing a home security system is a good deterrent to burglars. But it’s just the first of many steps a homeowner needs to take to protect their home. If you plan to leave your home for a summer vacation, here are a few things you can do to keep from putting out a welcome mat to burglars:

Don’t Announce Vacation Plans

It’s tempting to tell all your friends on social media about your vacation and share all the cool photos you took. Best tip? Wait until you get back home to share those your favorite pics and stories. Talking about your vacation via social media while you’re away from home is an open invitation to burglars. They’re experts at matching up social media profiles with your physical address and then paying you a visit.

Illuminate Your Yard

The Washington Post reported that most burglaries occur during 10 pm and 3 am. Install outdoor lights around doors, windows and blind spots so those areas remain well lit during the night. Place the exterior lights high enough to where they cannot be easily disabled. Connecting the lights to a motion detector is a smart option. That will cause them to flick on automatically if a burglar approaches and convince them to leave.

Suspend Mail and Newspaper Delivery

Burglars will often target a house where newspapers and mail pile up. It’s the most obvious sign to them no one is home. It also present criminals with the chance to go through your mail and steal your SSN and other important info. Call the post office and your local newspaper and ask them to suspend delivery while you’re away. Ask a neighbor to collect anything that ends up being delivered to your house while you’re gone.

Check Locks, Windows and Doors

If you’ve had service workers come to do work recently, double check to see all locks, windows and doors are secure before leaving on vacation. The Today Show reported that 50 percent of burglars have already been in your home because they first came by as service or maintenance workers.

Shorten Landscaping

Tall trees and bushes offer the perfect cover for burglars to approach your house unnoticed. Trim tree branches short enough to prevent them from being used to climb on the roof or in a window. You can also put down gravel walkways and beds of wood chips in different areas around the house. This may create a bit of extra noise to help clue you in to a burglar’s presence.

Use Timers for Everything

Put interior lights in various rooms on automatic timers and stagger them to go off at different times each night. You can also hook a TV or stereo to a timer for the same effect. It will create the illusion that someone’s home, even if no one is around. A burglar isn’t likely to take a chance, thinking it’s just a timer.

Wrap-up

Have a great vaction, whether you’re headed to some beautiful deserted island or just visiting some distant relations in Toledo. Follow our simple tips and you’re stuff should be there once you get back.

Author: Dave Nielsen

I started using computers in 1978 on the Apple II and was first online (using my “high-speed” 1200 baud modem) in 1989. I’ve managed web sites for several Fortune 500 companies and for internet start-ups. Working for one of those start-ups is what brought me into the world of credit. I was part of the the executive team that ran QSpace, the first company to offer credit reports over the internet.

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