Vacation bound? An empty home or apartment is an invitation to burglars. Protect your home from burglars while you are away on vacation, or just away for the weekend, to avoid being one of the two million plus annual household burglary victims.
According to the FBI, more than 65 percent of burglaries are residential break-ins. The FBI notes that the summer months of July and August have the highest rates of burglaries, usually about a 10 percent increase over other times of the year.
“Once in your home, a burglar can easily steal computer equipment, televisions, DVD players, jewelry and other valuable items,” says Jeanne Salvatore, of the Insurance Information Institute. She says the average dollar loss per home burglary is close to $2,000. But I think that’s much too low, especially for family heirlooms, which are priceless.
Plus, there’s a hidden cost of a home burglary: your homeowners insurance premiums could climb if you make a claim.
Criminals tend to be opportunists, so the general idea is to make your home more difficult to break into than the one next door, so the crook will target another home.
Research shows that if it takes more than four or five minutes to break into a home, the bad guy or guys will go elsewhere.
Burglary prevention tips
Make it time-consuming to break into your home. Criminals tend to be opportunists, so the general idea is to make your home more difficult to break into than the one next door, so the crook will target another home. Research shows that if it takes more than four or five minutes to break into a home, the bad guy or guys will go elsewhere. Dead-bolt window and door locks can slow down a burglar.
- Ask your insurance provider for a discount of 2 to 5 percent for installing these devices.
Make it noisy to break into your home. Invest in a burglar alarm. The most effective systems ring at an outside service, which alerts the police, fire department and other emergency services.
- A sophisticated alarm system can pay for itself in insurance discounts of 15 to 20 percent.
Make sure you have strong doors. Outside doors and frames should be made of metal or solid hardwood and be at least 1 3/4-inches thick. Each door must fit its frame securely. Even the best lock will not deter a burglar if it is installed in a weak door.
Make sure you have strong locks, and remember to use them. Such a simple solution, but sometimes we forget. If you have a tool shed, keep it locked, especially since burglars can use the tools to break into your home. Garage doors also need strong locks to prevent your car from being stolen, and to prevent thieves from using the garage entrance to break in.
Turn off your computer and disconnect it from the Internet. If you save personal information on your computer, make sure it is difficult to access. You don’t want a hacker at work while you are on vacation.
Keep valuables under lock and key and well hidden. Do not leave personal documents in your home office or desk–burglars know to look for them there. Put critical documents in a lock box or safe somewhere else in the house, or in a safe deposit box in your bank. Keep copies of important documents at another location–a relative’s home, for example. Expensive jewelry should also be hidden somewhere other than the bedroom or left in a safety deposit box at the bank.
More burglary prevention tips
Keep your home well lit. Mount exterior lights out of reach of would-be burglars in your yard or on your house. Invest in a timer for indoor lights, so that they go on and off at appropriate times, making it look as if the house is inhabited.
Make the house look inhabited. Leave blinds or curtains open in their usual position. Put indoor lights on a timer. If you are going to be away for an extended period, arrange to have your lawn mowed in the summer and your driveway shoveled in the winter.
Take care of your mail and newspaper deliveries. Arrange to have mail picked up or held by the post office. Stop newspaper deliveries, and ask a neighbor to pick-up “throw-away” circulars.
Ask a neighbor for help. Ask a neighbor you trust to keep an eye on your home while you are gone. You may also want to tell your local police you will be away.
Only tell people you know and trust that you are going away. Be careful not to discuss your vacation plans at the supermarket or hairdresser or other public places where you don’t know who may be listening. And most especially, do not reveal your plans on social media – Facebook or Twitter – where tech-savvy burglars may be trolling for information about your travel plans.
Get travel insurance. It covers delayed and lost baggage, missed flights and more.
Travel smart, travel safe.