Home Security: Best Practices When Away on Vacation

When you’re relaxing on vacation, the last thing you want to do is worry about what’s going on at home. But since nearly 75% of all burglaries occur at a private residences, it’s no wonder that security is such a huge concern. The FBI reported in 2012 that the average value of property stolen during break-ins was $2,230—but having the peace of mind that your home is “burglar repellent” means you can enjoy your vacation to the fullest. Intruders usually won’t spend more than 60 seconds trying to enter a home, so every preventative measure counts.

Fortunately, there are a plenty of ways to deter burglars from breaking into your home—and most of them aren’t even high-tech! Doing a little prep work before you pack your suitcase will help keep your home’s security tough and all your belongings safe until you return from your trip.

10 Ways to Prevent Home Break-Ins and Theft

1. Consider hiring a house-sitter

They can remove any flyers from your front door, water the plants, and grab the garbage cans. Break-ins are less likely to occur when someone is around, and these basic chores help alert the area that your home is occupied.

2. Ask the Post Office to hold your mail

If you don’t have someone you trust checking in on your home, ask your local Post Office to pause your mail delivery so nothing piles up. It’s easy to schedule your Hold Mail Service online, and you use the service for 3 days, all the way up to 30 consecutive days.

3. Don’t share your trip willy-nilly

Announcing travel plans on social media might give information to the wrong crowd. Try to resist sharing beach pictures or other photos on your message boards while away—it might just highlight the fact that your house is empty.

4. Rethink your hiding space

That spare key needs to be extra-hidden during vacations. Letting it stay outside is just too easy for burglars to find. Either bring the key back indoors, or give it to the house sitter or neighbor that’s checking in on your place.

5. Stagger your light timers

If you don’t have anyone staying over, use timers to switch your lights on and off at varying hours. (It would look funny if every room lit up at once, right?) For an added effect, you can also connect your TV to a separate timer.

6. Keep window shades the same

Whether you decide to play with light timers or not, be sure to leave your window blinds alone. Covering every window pane will just draw extra attention to your home. The exception is in your garage: Keep those curtains shut so no one will see that your car is missing.

7. Protect your garage door

Unplugging the power to your unit will prevent universal garage door openers from working on your system, but you’ll still need to protect your garage door’s emergency release. A plastic zip tie can lock the lever and keep your garage secure from intruders.

8. Put your safe in the right place

Thieves typically like to make a beeline for the master bedroom, so don’t leave your valuables in there. Instead, opt for a home safe that can be attached to the floor or some built-in shelving in another room of your home.

9. Add light to your perimeter

Any place a break-in might happen should be well-lit to prevent intruders from hiding out in the dark. Motion-activated lights will help add another layer of protection to your garage, back door, and front door.

10. Go with a full home security system

Installing a home alarm system can enhance your security whether you’re on vacation, at work, or fast asleep in your bed. The cellular monitoring with some newer setups also gives homeowners a convenient way to check-in on their space 24/7.

Once you have your own home in order, it’s always a good idea to keep in touch with your neighbors and local officials to help make your entire neighborhood a safe place to live. Here in Indiana, the number of burglaries looks particularly high. Homes in Carmel counted 113 burglary incidents in 2012, with Westfield, Avon, and Brownsburg homeowners each averaging around 50 burglaries for their area.

Local law enforcement will provide Vacation Checks to residents upon request in just about any city. With their support—and your own security precautions in place—your home should be able to stay well protected any time of year, whenever you’re away!