When you’re traveling, you’ll enjoy your trip more if you feel confident that your house is well-secured against burglars. If you don’t have someone to stay in your home while you’re gone, the next best way to protect it is to give it the appearance of being occupied. Houses that appear lived-in are far less tempting to burglars, who prefer to do their work without any risk of discovery. Here are some tips and suggestions from the National Crime Prevention Council about the best way to give your home a lived-in look.
Ask a friendly neighbor to help out
Knowing your neighbors improves your overall safety in a variety of ways, but their help is especially important when you’re away from home. Choose a neighbor who you trust, give them a key to your place, and offer to do them a favor in return for their help with the following tasks:
- Parking their car in your driveway when they’re at home. A car that comes and goes is a great indicator that the house is being used, especially if the schedule is unpredictable. Alternatively, if you have left your own car behind, ask the neighbor to move it now and then. Also, don’t leave any identifying documents in your car while you’re gone, and be sure to remove the garage door opener as well.
- Picking up your mail every day, as well as any packages or flyers left on your doorstep. This is actually a better tactic than having your mail held at the post office, because the disappearance of mail out of your box every day provides evidence of someone being around. However, even if you have the post office hold your mail, it’s still good to ask that neighbor to check your doorstep once a day.
- Putting out and taking in your garbage cans, even if the neighbor has to throw a bit of their own trash in there.
- Going inside and moving the window shades and curtains into a different position once a day. You should not simply leave the blinds drawn, as that makes a house look empty.
- Generally keeping an eye on the place, while not sharing with anyone else the fact that you’re away. The fewer people who know your house is empty, the safer it will be. The neighbor should have contact information for you, in case of an unforeseen emergency.
Don’t let the yard be neglected
For longer absences, make sure that the lawn gets mowed and the plants watered. This may require asking a friend or family member, or hiring someone. Again, consider the spread of information, and try to keep your absence known to only a few highly trusted people.
Don’t advertise your absence on Facebook
The fact that your house is standing empty is not something that you want spreading virally through the network of friends of friends. You can wait to share your photos until you’ve come home.
If you have a land-line phone, disconnect it or turn down the ringer
An unanswered ringing phone is a clear indication of an empty house.
Take valuables out of your house
Although with these precautions in place, it’s unlikely your house will be broken into, it’s also important to protect your most vulnerable possessions, just in case. Small, very valuable items should be placed in a bank safe deposit box, and weapons should be locked in an unmovable (built-in) gun safe.
Put internal lights on different timers
It’s important to invest in more than a single timer, since different rooms are used at different times when people are really there. Create a fictitious traffic pattern that makes sense: living room lights off at bedtime, bedroom light on, bathroom light on briefly at least once in the night.
Put a radio on a timer
Hearing a radio playing inside the house will definitely discourage burglars, although this only works if it’s on a timer so that it is not playing continuously.
Follow these tips to protect your house while you are away, and if you have any questions about more ways to keep your home safe and your belongings protected, give AmeriAgency a call at 615-209-9362.