Summer is officially in full swing, and that means it’s vacation time for millions of Americans. In fact, 35% of Americans planned to take family vacations this summer. Leaving the rat race behind for a relaxing visit to the beach or an amusement park is a long-standing tradition; however, you don’t want to come back to the aftermath of a break-in.
Along with planning the perfect itinerary, you also need to plan ahead to keep your home from being targeted by burglars while you’re out having fun in the sun. Make sure your rest and relaxation don’t get hijacked by a criminal, and avoid these four common mistakes that roll out the welcome mat for thieves.
Mistake #1: Telling Burglars You’re Out of Town
This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how easy it is for the bad guys to figure out that your home is currently vacant. The biggest culprit is social media. A recent survey by Eyewitness Surveillance found that 78% of burglars use social media to find their ideal target. With nearly one-third of all vacationers posting pictures of their adventure while they’re away, it’s easy to see why criminals rely on social media.
The Solution: Instead of posting vacation photos immediately, save them up and make a fun friends-only album for loved ones to enjoy once you get back. If you absolutely can’t wait to share your awesome vacation pics, create a private group and share info and photos about your vacation in that group only. Other signs that tell a thief your home is empty include piled up newspapers or mail, a neglected lawn, and a porch light that never goes off, so plan to avoid those as well.
Mistake #2: Leaving a Key Under the Mat
No matter how many times we hear what a bad idea this is, many of us continue to leave a spare key under a welcome mat or potted plant. Canary Home Security found that one in 10 people still leave an extra key hidden somewhere outside their door. The top places people hide keys include in an unattached garage or shed; under a mat, pot or garden ornament; and on the windowsill.
The Solution:. Before you hit the road or board that plane, make sure that any spare keys hidden around your property are removed. If you need someone to have access to your home while you’re away, give them a copy of the key in person, or better yet, upgrade to a smart lock that lets you control your locks remotely or uses a code instead of a traditional key.
Mistake #3: Not Talking to the Neighbors
You want to keep mum about your vacation on social media, but you can benefit from letting your neighbors know that you’re going to be out of town. This way they can keep an eye out for any suspicious activity at your home. It’s one of the most convenient, affordable, and effective home security strategies you can implement, and all it takes is a quick conversation.
The Solution: Be sure to give your neighbors ample notice that you’ll be out of town. If you’re on friendly terms, you might also ask them if they can pick up your mail, roll out your garbage can on trash pickup day, or even park their car in your driveway. This will help give the impression that your home is still occupied, and will encourage burglars to move on to a different target.
Mistake #4: Providing Easy Access
Almost 30% of all burglars walk right through the front door or gain access through an open window. They particularly like ground-floor windows that are easy to enter and are partially obscured by trees or hedges. Another way to make your home appealing to a thief is to leave a ladder out, leaning against the roof.
The Solution: Be sure to do a final inspection of all windows and doors before you load up the suitcases. Make sure everything is locked up tight, including the garage door. If you have a sliding glass door, insert a wooden or steel rod into the runner for added security. Remove any ladders or step stools that you regularly use and put them in a locked garage or shed. You can also achieve stronger peace of mind by investing in a security system. If you opt for a system with home automation, you can even double-check the locks while you’re on vacation right from your smartphone.
There’s a lot to remember to ensure that your family vacation goes off without a hitch. As you’re packing up swimsuits and extra sunscreen, don’t forget to make home security part of your vacation planning checklist.