Summer is a popular time for travel. This mean family photos, fun memories and favorite spots. It also means burglar heaven. It should come as no surprise that burglars love targeting homes during the summer months. Although thieves are in and out of your home in an average of six minutes, the damage they can do during that short time can last a lifetime. Protect your home and everything in it every time you leave. It’s simple and it’s smart.
In addition to home security systems and the ever-popular timers for lights, hiring a house sitter, and a barking dog noise maker, security expert Ira A. Lipman of Guardsmark says there are other ways…many surprising…to be safe while you’re away and while you’re at home. They include:
- Store valuables in a child’s room rather than in the master bedroom or other common places. Burglars often leave kids’ room untouched.
- If your car has a remote-controlled key chain alarm, sleep with it next to your bed. If you hear anything suspicious, hit the panic button and your car alarm will go off, hopefully scaring any potential predators away.
- Outside shrubbery is, in general, not recommended around ground-floor windows because it can serve as a hiding place for burglars, but, if you must plant some, plant thorny ones like rose bushes, which will make thieves think twice about scaling them.
- Keep valuables (including TVs, wrapped presents, computers, etc.) out of sight from passerbys or anyone knocking on your frontdoor. The more they see, the more they may want. Be sure to close all window coverings before leaving.
- Experts say 34% of all thieves come in through the front door. Consider installing double key deadbolts, which require a key to enter and to exit. When you’re gone, hide the key. If someone does break in, getting any of your big items out will be difficult unless they break the door down. (When you are home, be sure to keep the key in a safe and unvarying spot close to the door.)
- Back up all computers before you leave. In the event they are stolen, you’ll be glad you did! Also, put any portable hard drives in unlikely places like a laundry room or kitchen pantry
- Ask a neighbor to check your driveway and porch for newspapers, packages, and flyers. Burglars have been known to leave flyers on doors to see if they are removed. Best bet: always cancel your newspaper subscription and mail delivery while you’re gone.
- Always load up your car right before you leave, not the night before, especially if the car will be parked outside all night. A packed car tells a burglar you’re leaving.
- Lower the volume on your home phone and on any audible voice mail machines. Repeated voice mail “pick ups” could indicate you’re gone.
- Don’t store anything – chairs, pots, wood, etc. – on a hidden side of your house. They can serve as ladders for potential burglars.
- Before heading for the beach, wash out an empty suntan lotion bottle and use it to store your phone, wallet, and/or money in your beach bag.
Do you have any tips to add? Please do so!
For more tips on locks, alarm systems, and general safety, check out Lipman’s book “How to Be Safe,” available through Reader’s Digest Association.
Be smart and be safe!