Here’s a few tips for preparing your home for a holiday. They’re all pretty straight forward and all fall under one simple idea – make it look like someone is home while you travel.
More often than not burglars will go for the low hanging fruit. If it looks like it will be easy to get in and out then they’ll have a go. If there is a hint that someone is home or may be home soon, then the level of ease for a burglar drops and they will be more likely to move on.
Simple things like putting timers on lights, having someone collect mail, cancelling newspaper subscriptions, etc. are all effective as they make the house look occupied. Nothing says “this family is away” more than an overflowing mail box and a driveway full of unopened newspapers! But there’s a few other things that can be done as well.
A lot of crime happens during daylight hours so if you can, leave a car in the driveway. Again, if a thief thinks someone is home they’re less likely to try getting in. If you can’t leave a car in the driveway then ask a neighbour if they’d park their car in your driveway while you’re away. If they’re collecting your mail for you then they can do this at the same time.
Make sure your garden is maintained. Just like newspapers in the driveway, an unkempt, overgrown lawn suggests that no one is home. Mow the lawn before you go away and if you’re on an extended vacation then get someone to come and mow it while you’re gone.
Make it unattractive
Of course you should also do simple things to make your house a less attractive target. If your house is secluded by trees then this gives a burglar the opportunity to break in without being seen (this exact scenario happened to me and prompted me to start lockr). Don’t screen entry points with fences, trees or shrubs, keep them visible. If you can see your windows then people can see a thief climbing through them too. Thieves don’t like that!
If you have hidden keys around the place then remove them. It also pays to not have them in the usual spots too. Thieves know the most common places to hide keys just as well as we do (under the mat, under a pot plant or rock, etc.). If there isn’t a key then it can’t be used to get inside.
On top of all this people should make sure they are prepared for the worst. Check your insurance policies to make sure they’re current. Update your lockr account if you have one. If you don’t have one then make one. At the very least you should record details of the most likely things to get stolen (jewellery, electronics, computers). Our research shows that more than two thirds of people don’t have a home inventory which creates problems if you need to claim on your insurance. Moreover, having a home inventory, on average, halves the time taken to process an insurance claim. If you have a safe then use it for valuables.
Finally, have someone check on your house. We’ve already mentioned that you should have someone collect mail and make your house look lived in. Give them a key and get them to keep an eye on things. We heard about one family who were on an overseas holiday and someone moved in and started living in their house! The interlopers told the neighbors that they were house sitting so no one suspected a thing and in the meantime the house was being trashed. This could have been avoided if the owners had let their neighbors know what the plan was.
Taking a few simple precautions can make your holiday a lot less stressful because you won’t be worrying about your home.
And don’t forget to check out our travel checklist here.