Each year over two million home burglaries are reported in the United States. Whether you are planning a vacation or a short trip to visit relatives this holiday season, keep in mind that an empty house is a tempting target for a burglar. You can increase home safety by taking a few simple steps.
Don’t Be an Easy Target
- Over 65 percent of burglars know their victims. Show caution when and with whom you discuss vacation plans. Don’t broadcast your plans on social media. Wait to post pictures and adventures until after you return. Posting your vacation plans before you leave gives confirmation that your home will be empty and vulnerable.
- Keep shrubs and other landscaping well-trimmed around doors and windows. Burglars will look for homes that have good cover, such as high privacy fences, tall trees, and hedges.
- Lock any vehicles that are parked outside. Don’t leave garage door openers in vehicles that are parked outside.
- If you have garage door windows, install shades and keep them closed to prevent anyone from peeking inside.
- Don’t leave valuables in plain sight.
- Keep your garage door closed, even when you are home.
- One-third of robberies occur through “unlawful entry,” meaning the burglar entered the home through an open window or unlocked door. Use sturdy locks on all doors and windows, and make sure they are locked before you leave. Repair any broken windows or locks.
- Lock pet access points.
- Install motion sensing lights on the exterior of your home.
- If you have a security system, make sure you set it before you leave. If you will be gone for an extended period of time, let your alarm company know. Burglars are most attracted to homes that do not have a home security system. Video surveillance cameras mounted outside the home or security placards placed around the perimeter of the home are a good deterrence.
Create the Illusion That You Are Home
- Place a temporary hold on mail and newspaper delivery. You can place a hold on your mail for three to 30 days at https://holdmail.usps.com/holdmail/.
- Invest in a timer that turns on interior lights for a few hours in the evening and early morning. You could also set a timer to turn the television or radio on for an hour or two during the day or evening.
- Do not leave your porch light on – a constantly-lit porch is another sign you are away. Ask a neighbor to turn the porch light on and off or purchase a light timer.
- Make arrangements for maintenance, such as snow removal or lawn care, if you will be gone for an extended amount of time.
- Leave your blinds/curtains the way you usually keep them when you are home – if they are normally open and then you shut them tight while on vacation, this is a sure sign that you are away.
- Invite a neighbor to use your driveway for extra vehicles or guests while you are on vacation.
- If you have a neighborhood watch group, let them know you will be away.
- Ask a friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your home while you are away. If you haven’t placed a hold on mail and newspaper delivery, ask them to collect these items as well as any other materials that are left on your porch (fliers, phone books, packages, etc.).
- If your garbage pick-up day will occur while you are gone, ask someone to take your garbage to the curb and return it after pick-up.
- Consider hiring a house or pet sitter.
- Get to know your neighbors. They can be your first line of defense – you watch their home, and they will watch yours. This can be advantageous not only while you are on vacation, but also on regular days when you are away for work or other activities. If your neighbors don’t know you well, they won’t recognize when something seems out of the ordinary around your home.
Review Your Insurance Coverage
There are two different types of coverage on a home insurance policy that may help you recover if your home is burglarized. Dwelling coverage may help pay for any repairs needed due to damage incurred by a break-in. Personal property coverage helps cover the cost to repair or replace personal belongings that are damaged or stolen by an intruder. High-value items, such as jewelry, electronics, guns, and antiques may need additional coverage with scheduled personal property coverage. To learn more about scheduled personal property, visit https://news.leavitt.com/personal/five-tips-protecting-jewelry-high-value-items/.
Contact your Leavitt Group insurance advisor to review your policy and ensure you have the right coverage.