According to insurance industry statistics, home burglaries most often occur in the summer while homeowners are away. In the US, a home is burglarized every 15 seconds and on average, damages and loss of possessions amount to $2,316 (source). So, what can you do to keep your home safe during your vacation?
A great way is to hire a house sitter to stay at your place, but that isn’t always an option. So here are several things you can do to protect your home while you’re gone, so you can have the peace of mind you need to enjoy your time away from home.
Prepare today for peace of mind tomorrow.
Get occasional tips about keeping your family and home safe — delivered to your inbox.
Easy Ways to Deter Would-Be Burglars
- Automate your lights on a schedule to make it look like someone is home. Set your lights to turn on when the sun goes down and turn off when it comes up. If possible, set both indoor and outdoor lights on a schedule.
- Have a trusted friend, family member, or neighbor stop by to empty the mailbox, pick up newspapers, and move packages inside. Or, put a temporary hold on your mail and subscriptions.
- If you normally have a car in the driveway or garage and are planning to travel by plane, consider getting a ride to the airport from a friend, public transit, or ride share service. Keeping your car in the same place it always is will make it look like business as usual.
- Lock all the doors and windows before you leave. If you keep a spare key under a welcome mat, leave it somewhere less obvious or put it inside the house until you return. If you have sliding doors, put a steel bar in the sliding track to prevent anyone from forcing their way in.
- Continue any landscaping services while you are gone. An overgrown front yard is a sign to potential burglars that the homeowners have been away for a while.
- Keep a few blinds or curtains open to maintain a normal appearance, and don’t forget to hide any valuables that someone could see if they peeked inside. Stow away jewelry, electronics, paperwork, and other valuables, ideally in a safe.
- Don’t post anything publicly about your travel schedule. You can share with friends and family, of course, but don’t post your travel plans or vacation photos on public social media accounts until you return home.
After you have done everything you can to make it look like you’re not on vacation, you can focus your energy on effective deterrents to keep your home from being targeted. According to the ASU Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, the most frequent times for burglaries are weekdays between 10 am and 11 am and from 1 pm to 3 pm. Burglars are willing to risk breaking in during the day because that’s usually when people are not home (although this isn’t always the case now because of remote and hybrid work schedules). So, after you have made it look like you’re at home, here are some extra things you can do to make your house less appealing to burglars:
- Before you leave, trim down any bushes or trees along the front of your home. This will minimize the places where burglars can hide while trying to break in. The key is to make breaking in look as difficult and risky as possible.
- If you don’t already, light all the entrances to your home with low-wattage outdoor lighting. If you are concerned about energy use or having too many lights on outside, you can use motion-detection lights. The goal is to eliminate all the easy ways for someone to target your home for a break-in.
- If you have a video doorbell or security system, use signage to indicate that your home is under protection. Burglars are more likely to target homes that do not have security systems. Homes without security or surveillance systems are 300% more likely to be burglarized (source) than those with them. Less than 30% of homes have an effective security system installed (source).
Based on the statistic above, having a security system is a fantastic way to deter burglars and ensure the proper authorities are alerted if anyone does try to break in. Here are a few reasons why having an alarm system can help protect your home while you’re traveling:
- They provide an easy way for you to keep an eye on your home. Almost all modern alarm systems have a mobile app that allows you to access your cameras, sensors, and alerts easily from your phone. That way, no matter where you are in the world, as long as you have cellular service or access to Wi-Fi, you can check on your home.
- You have the option to leave the worrying to the pros with professional surveillance. With DIY surveillance, you are responsible for alerting the authorities if an alarm is triggered. But with professional surveillance, if any threats are detected, your security system company will contact the local authorities. Talk about peace of mind!
- They can keep your furry friends at home safe. Some alarm systems include temperature monitors and connect to smoke detectors. If you frequently travel or you want to go away for a long weekend and leave Whiskers at home, this can be helpful. Add-ons include thermostats and smoke detectors to ensure that if your A/C breaks down or a fire starts, your system will alert you and the authorities.
If you have time to prepare before your trip and currently do not have an alarm system, it may be worth your time to install one. That is one strong way that you can keep your home safe, especially during vacation. Batten recommends a range of different alarm systems based on features, ease of installation, and value. Subscriptions include those with constant surveillance by the alarm company and those that require the user to alert the authorities in the event of a break-in.
You can also look through our Resources section to read comparisons of alarm systems and tips on choosing the right one for you. This can be based on whether you rent or own, want a DIY option or white-glove service, and more.