Reduce the Risk of Being a Burglary Victim

...while you're on vacation.

Reduce the Risk of Being a Burglary Victim

If you’re planning a vacation, protect your home and possessions from burglars with these tips. And if your children and grandchildren are traveling, share these tips with them.

  • Avoid describing your travel plans on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, where potential thieves might learn about them.
  • Instead of stopping mail and newspaper deliveries, ask a neighbor or family member who lives nearby to collect and save them for you.
  • Consider hiring a house sitter, which has a double advantage if you have pets: You won’t have to put the dog or cat in a kennel, which can be traumatic for them, and your house won’t be left empty.
  • Store valuables such as mortgage documents, car registrations, passports and expensive jewelry in a safe deposit box away from home.
  • Burglars typically try to kick in the door. Install the strongest locks available.
  • Thieves usually target homes with dense shrubbery around them, to hide their entrance. Keep trees and shrubs cut neatly so that doors, windows and other break-in points are in the open and clearly visible.
  • Turn down your telephone’s ringer and forward calls to your mobile phone.
  • If you have a lawn service, keep it going while you’re away; if not, hire someone to cut the grass if you’ll be gone more than a week.
  • Keep valuables such as flat-screen TVs, other electronics and expensive appliances away from windows and out of view.
  • Set indoor lights on timers to give the impression you’re at home. You can buy these at most hardware stores.
  • Set up lights with motion sensors in the front and back and on the sides of your house.
  • Secure sliding doors by placing a wooden pole or dowel in the sliding track to prevent it from opening even if the lock is broken.
  • Consider installing a home security system — especially one with a remote monitoring signal that alerts the police or fire department.
  • Alert the police if you’ll be gone a week or more; many departments will have officers periodically drive by your house.
  • If there’s a neighborhood watch group, be sure to join it to ensure more friendly eyes are watching your property.

Not all break-ins can be prevented, of course, but these steps can help make your house a less desirable target for thieves.

Originally published in Inside Personal Finance August 2016

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