According to the Department of Justice, there are 10 percent more burglaries in the summer than in the winter. Additionally, the rate of household property victimization and household larceny also peak during the hottest months of the year. This time of year also happens to be when most of us pack our bags and head out for vacation.
While you’re out enjoying the summer weather, you don’t want to worry about what’s happening at home. Here are 10 tips to protect your home while on vacation.
1. Lock All Windows and Doors Before You Leave for Vacation
Over 30 percent of burglars enter a home through an unlocked window or door. A few weeks before your vacation, check the windows and doors of your home to be sure they shut and lock properly. Make repairs as necessary, and verify they’re all secure on the day you leave for vacation.
2. Install a Home Security System
In addition to reducing the chance your home will be burglarized by 300 percent, many leading systems offer remote access so you can check your home security from your phone. You can even use your device to lock/unlock doors or check on pets via security cameras. Plus, your insurance provider may discount your home insurance premium by up to 20 percent when you install a security system – and that savings could help pay for your vacation!
3. Avoid Garage Break-ins While You’re Out of Town
Many homeowners focus on the main body of their home and forget to secure the garage. Fortunately, there are several easy ways to help protect your garage from a break-in, including installing motion detector lights on the corners of the garage, ensuring the garage service door is locked, and hiding valuables out of sight. If you leave a car in the driveway, be sure to remove the garage door remote. A burglar won’t think twice about breaking into your car and using the remote to access your garage.
4. Use Light Timers While You’re Away
Light timers are affordable, easy to install, and can help deter criminals by making your home look occupied. Choose a timer with a “random on/off” option, so your lights turn on and off at various times throughout the day and night, making it difficult for burglars to determine if the home is vacant.
5. Remove “Hidden” Keys While You’re on Vacation
Over one-third of burglars enter a home through the front door, often using the homeowner’s “hidden” key. If there’s a key under your doormat or in another obvious location, remove it. You may also want to consider replacing your traditional front door lock with a keyless lock so you don’t even have to worry about keys.
6. Tell Your Neighbors You’ll Be Out of Town
Assuming you trust your neighbors, it’s a good idea to inform them you’ll be on vacation and leave a number where you can be reached. Make them aware of anyone who might be going into your home, such as a house sitter or dog walker. For extra protection, ask your local police department and neighborhood watch to be on the lookout for any unusual activity near your home.
7. Tidy Up Your Yard Before Vacation
Prepare your home for your departure by putting valuables – grills, bikes, and tools – in a secure shed or garage, and trimming shrubs so burglars can’t conceal themselves while trying to break into your home. If you have a gate that provides access to your yard, make sure it shuts and locks. Scan your property for anything a burglar might use to break into your home, such as a brick or hammer, and take it inside.
8. Keep Your House Safe with a Sitter
Enlist the services of a house sitter to keep an eye on your home while you’re away. He or she can pick up fliers left at the door, bring in the mail, and take garbage and recycling bins to the curb. These things help hide the fact you’re not home.
9. Take Safety Precautions with Utilities
Protecting your house from a break-in is important, but you also want to avoid problems with utilities, like electricity or water. Unplug appliances, turn off the water valves to all sinks, the dishwasher, and washing machine, and test your smoke detectors.
10. Arrange for Lawn Care
If your lawn is overgrown, it can be a telling sign to people that no one is there to do upkeep. If you don’t have a regular lawn service, consider scheduling lawn maintenance once or twice while you’re away.
Angie Bersin is part of the content marketing team at Redfin and enjoys writing about home decor and real estate trends.