May 21, 2014

7 Home Security Tips for Summer Vacation


Home security is about not appearing as a lucrative target
The Better Business Bureau reports an estimated 136 million Americans travel last summer on vacation and this summer is heating up to be a heavy vacation period as well. With all these travelers, that means there will be a lot of vacant homes with precious valuables insides. Burglars delight in this.

The FBI reports there were over 600,000 victims of burglary/breaking and entering in 2012. While you place great planning into the travel details, don't forget to take care of what you're leaving behind. Simple security precautions could prevent you from becoming another statistic.


Here are seven simple but effective security tips you can use to keep your home safe while you're away.

Don't post plans on social media
Limit social media posts with vacation details. Burglars could use social media posts to determine when you're away. In fact four out of five burglars use social media to select their targets. A vacant home is a very lucrative target and you could be advertising it online. Don't announce your vacation plan details on any social media. Wait to make your vacation posts about the great beach and beautiful scenery picture uploads for when you return. Don't worry, your friends and family can go a while without knowing about your every move and what you ate.

Keep hedges and bushes trimmed. While overgrown hedges and low hanging tree branches create privacy for you, they also provide great hiding places for burglars to work in peace. Burglars like to work in areas where it is hard for others to see them. Minimize hiding spots by trimming back shrubbery so they're less than three feet tall and away from points of entrance (i.e. doors, windows). Additionally, trim branches of large trees at least seven feet off the ground, and away from points of entrance. The idea is to create a clear zone to easily identify intruders.

Outside lighting. As with the trimmed hedges and bushes, lighting diminishes hiding spots for potential burglars by making him easier to spot. Have lights on motion sensors over points of entrance, such as doorways and windows at ground level. Solar garden lights around the perimeter help as well.
A house with outside lighting
Interior lighting. Set different lights in your house on timers to go on and off at different times throughout the evening. The idea is to make the house have a lived in appearance. You don't turn on every single light in the house on at the same time when you're home, so why set them to go on and off at the same time?

Lock up! Be a hard target.
Lock up. It is a simple tip, but one worth repeating. One out of three burglars enter a home through an unlocked door or window. Before leaving, go through the house to ensure you lock all doors and windows, to include the back door, garage door, and entrance into the house from the garage. If possible, disable the overhead garage door to prevent easy break-ins. Lock up your tools and ladders, especially if they're in an easily accessible area. Thieves could use your own tools to help them break-in. Don't give robbers a helping hand!

Reinforce doors and windows. Follow the tips in our Home Security post such as make sure exterior doors and their frames are made from sturdy material; use dead-bolts; and replace strike plates. Placing bars in ground floor windows and sliding glass doors is another simple, but effective, tip.

Arrange for care taker. While you're away, arrange for somebody to stop by to remove flyers placed on your door while you were gone, to care for the yard, place trash/recycling out on pick up day, and check the general well being of the house. An unkept yard, garbage can out for long periods of time, and flyers left out over days can be an indicator to potential thieves. Ask that they check at different times so as not to create a pattern.


References:
Better Business Bureau (2013 June 5). Summer smarts: Keep your home safe while you are away. Retrieved from http://www.bbb.org/us/article/summer-smarts-keep-your-home-safe-while-you-are-away-42246

Chaplan, B. (2013 September 2). Cautious care: How to protect your home against burglars. Dumb Little Man: Tips for life. Retrieved from http://www.dumblittleman.com/2013/09/cautious-care-how-to-protect-your-home.html

Federal Bureau of Investigation (2013). National incident-based reporting system 2012. Uniform Crime Reports. Retrieved from http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/nibrs/2012.
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