KEEPING YOUR HOME SAFE WHILE YOU’RE ON VACATION
Today, it’s more important than ever that homeowners take an active role in protecting their most valuable asset and belongings – especially while they’re away from home. And luckily, there are no shortages of home security tips, products, and services available to homeowners at the push of a button. While it’s prudent to assess a home’s security from time to time, however, there’s no reason to live in fear. Making a home more secure is often much easier than you may think.
How Burglars Choose a House
Let’s start by looking at the many ways burglars scope out their targets. Some of the things crooks look for are newspapers or flyers that have accumulated on the porch or driveway, or mail that hasn’t been retrieved in days. Even trash cans that haven’t been returned to the house could be an indication the homeowners are away. Burglars can also use trash in another way: to determine if a home is worth breaking into. Especially if that trash includes an empty box for a wide-screen television, video game system or other expensive items.
Statistics and anecdotes show that burglars will pass on a home with a security system and signage when other options are available. Burglars will also note if a home has a deadbolt in addition to a locking doorknob. And the presence of a dog can also discourage a burglar.
Burglars know homeowners often “hide” extra keys around their property. If you’re hiding a key under a welcome mat, above a light, in a mailbox or in a barbecue grill, it makes it just that much easier to gain entrance.
Possible Points of Entry
The most popular way for a burglar to enter a home is the way most homeowners do, via the front door. Far too many times doors are left unlocked or are easy to kick in. Beyond front doors, windows and garage doors are also frequently used as access points. It takes only seconds for a potential thief to walk a property, checking for unlocked doors and windows. Even garage doors with automatic openers can be bypassed or disabled by a very tech-savvy individual.
All homeowners should take steps necessary to make sure all access points to a home are secured with locks, deadbolts or devices that can block a window or sliding door from opening far enough to allow entry.
Here are 10 Tips to Keep Your Home Safe
Before you leave for that week or month in paradise, make sure you take care of the following tips from Realty Times:
- Leave the lights on
Owners can start by making their home appear to be occupied in their absence. This can be done in a variety of ways, including leaving a television or radio on in the home, using motion activated lighting and placing interior lights on timers. Consider upgrading your outside lighting too; paying special attention to any dark areas that may create an invitation to burglars.
- Hold your mail and stop your newspaper
“According to a US Postal Service official, mail theft is on the rise, with the objective of getting access to financial information to exploit for personal gain,” said ABC 10. A stack of newspapers at your front door will also signal crooks that no one’s home.
- Hire a dog sitter or close the doggy door
One of the top obstacles to home break-ins is a barking dog. Nextdoor and Rover are great places to find a qualified dog sitter who can stay with your pooches and watch your house at the same time. If you do board your dogs, be sure to lock up your doggy door while you’re gone. You might also want to place a chair or a plant in front of it for extra protection>
- Tell Your Neighbors
No list of home security tips would be complete without this one: Make sure your neighbors know the dates of your trip so they can keep an eye on your home. Also, leave your house key with a trusted neighbor for emergencies and tell them how to get in touch with you.
- Remove spare keys
If you leave a key hidden under the mat or in the planter next to the front door, security experts advise you to remove it. Thieves are looking for an easy way in and a hidden key can be the invitation they’re looking for.
- Lock your gates
If you regularly keep the gate unlocked to give access to gardeners or other family members, consider locking it while you’re away. Forgoing landscaping in your back yard for a week won’t hurt, and the extra security measure will help you feel at ease.
- Cancel automatic deliveries
If you get regular deliveries of things like coffee, office supplies or diapers, be sure to call and cancel while you’re gone. Packages piling up at your front door can invite theft of your home, and the stuff you ordered.
- Wipe away your fingerprints
For those who have a front door lock that uses a code instead of a key, be sure to wipe away any fingerprints. There have been recent cases in which crooks used fingerprint patterns on the touchpad to determine the code and break in. Get into a habit of wiping the keypad down every day to minimize the risk.
- Update your security system
A security system continues to be the No. 1 deterrent to break-ins. From battery operated alarms installed on doors and windows, to monitored sophisticated alarms with video, the choices are wide-ranging. One of the fastest growing and most popular components of home security systems today is indoor and outdoor cameras. Cameras can be mounted outdoors to monitor property, at entryways to keep track of deliveries and visitors, and even inside the house to keep an eye on pets and monitor interior security. Today’s cameras are so small they can fit mostly undetected in a doorbell and provide exceptional quality. Cameras can be monitored from a smartphone with video stored in the cloud. The lowest tech, but often most visible aspect of a home security system can be the yard signs and window stickers that come with it. Research indicates most home burglars will bypass a home with visible security signage so these simple components can be exceedingly effective. The end goal is usually the same—giving a potential burglar reason to think twice about entering a home.
- Don’t advertise your absence.
Avoid announcing your absence publicly on social media. Keep lawns mowed. Leave a radio on in your absence. A talk radio station can be particularly effective in creating the illusion someone is present in the home. There are even apps you can download, including one that loops random barking and growling sounds, which might seem silly, but when asked, most burglars say they’d stay away if they heard a big, loud dog. One criminal called it a “deal-breaker.”
By following these 10 home security tips, you can relax and concentrate on having fun while away from your residence. Of course, the optimum way to ensure your home is always safe is by having a sophisticated whole-house security system like those in many of my current listings. So, if you’re thinking about purchasing a new security system (with a home attached), give me a call at 805.886.9378 or email me at Cristal@montecito-estate.com. And be sure to get in the habit about taking home security more seriously. Consider it each time you leave. With enough practice, home security will become second nature.