Summer is when many of us are excited about getting out of town for a much needed vacation, but it’s also a great time to think about ways to keep your home safe while you’re away.
You don’t need to invest in an expensive home alarm system or install an unsightly barbed wire fence to keep out would be burglars. Sometimes a couple of easy steps are all you need to secure your home.
If you’re creative you can Install dummy surveillance cameras or turn webcams into security cams. Get a motion-sensor home security system that lets you monitor your home with your smartphone.
Make sure that your mirrors don’t reflect your home alarm. Burglars might be able to see if your alarm is unarmed, so make sure you examine your mirrors from all outside angles. Buy some fake alarm system decals if you can’t afford a real one. Ebay has got plenty of these.
Fake a TV glow. Using the same energy as a nightlight, the device works on a timer system, and makes it look like someone’s home.
Flyers & Mail
Always remember to remove flyers from your doorstep or ask your neighbors to keep an eye out while you’re away and do it for you. You can offer to return the favor for them while they are away as well.
Never let flyers or menus build up on your doorstep — you risk appearing like you’re on vacation. Burglars sometimes case a home by planting a flyer and checking to see if someone picks it up.
Cancel your newspaper subscriptions and ask the post office to hold your mail while you’re out of town. An obvious build-up of materials will let everyone know no one’s home.
Lawn Care & Lighting
Keep your landscaping neat and trimmed. Eliminate any potential places for burglars and intruders to lurk. Be sure to keep large bushes and shrubs away from windows. This is also a great to save your siding by trimming away anything touching your house.
Mow your lawn before you leave and ask a neighbor to keep an eye out and mow again if necessary if you will be gone more than two weeks. People will wonder if you’ve gone on vacation if you let your grass grow too high.
Buy light timers for your indoor and outdoor lights. Use fluorescent bulbs to keep energy costs down. Nothing surprises more than a floodlight that suddenly lights up a dark area. Make sure your lighting is consistent around your entire property, leaving few dark areas – pay careful attention to the lighting near doors.
Don’t leave a ladder hanging out in your backyard. This is just an invitation to climb up to your windows to take a look or get in.
Pretend like you’re saying good-bye to someone inside when you leave your home. If someone’s watching you, they’ll be fooled into thinking someone’s still home.
If you’re leaving one of your cars behind, put bumper stickers on it as anything that makes it more easily identifiable is a good deterrent. And remember to keep it messy if you can.
This is also a great tip just after Christmas – don’t leave your electronics boxes out on the curb. Drive them to the recycling plant yourself, or cut them up into smaller pieces and conceal them in your recycling or trash bins.
Facebook is one way people can tell if you’re not home. Don’t leave status updates broadcasting that you’re away.
When loading a car with suitcases, keep it quick and hidden if possible. Load your car in the garage with the door closed. If you have to do it in public, do it as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Around Your House
Reinforce your door jambs if you have weak door frames.
Use a wooden dowel or metal bar for sliding doors and windows so they can’t be pried open. Cut a wooden dowel so that it fits into the track when it’s closed.
Invest in double glazed or toughened glass windows. Double-glazed windows as well as toughened glass are harder to smash through. Not the cheapest option, but you get added benefits. In the case of double-glazed windows, you’ll save money from increased heat insulation and they’ll block out more noise, which could increase your property value if you happen to live on a loud, busy street.
Build a secret hiding place for your valuables.
For your hidden key get a combination lock box and hide it as most everyone can easily guess where you keep your spare key – most common spots are under the front door mat or in a flower pot. Even if a burglar finds the box, he won’t be able to open it and access the key.