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Protecting Your Home While on Vacation

While people go on vacation at all times of the year, July and August are two of the busiest months for vacationing. But while you’re enjoying time away, a thief may find your vacant home a tempting target.

According to the FBI, a burglar enters a home in the United States every 14 seconds, and 60 percent of burglaries occur when a home is unoccupied. The most important thing to do when you’re away from home on vacation is to create the appearance that someone actually is home.

One of the most recommended tips for when you’ll be gone for an extended period of time is to have a house sitter watch your home. If that’s not possible, review the following checklist. The following checklist provides tips on protecting your home while you are on vacation.

  • Deliveries – Stop mail, newspapers and other deliveries. Or, ask a neighbor to bring them inside everyday. A pile of deliveries by your front door gives a good indication that nobody has been home for awhile. If a neighbor brings your newspapers and deliveries inside, have them put it somewhere that can’t be seen through the window. If thieves can see a pile of deliveries inside, it’s the same as seeing it in a pile outside.
  • Use Motion Detectors/Timers – Make sure outside lights are on motion detectors. If an intruder were to come to your house at night, it’s the action of the light coming on that scares them away, not just the light being on. You also should use timers to turn lights and a radio or TV on and off at appropriate times.
  • Yard Work – Arrange to have yard work done. Unmowed grass, unshoveled snow, and unraked leaves give the impression a home is not occupied. Also, have a neighbor set out trash on normal collection days. Empty cans and recycle bins should be removed the same day.
  • Alarm System – If you have an alarm system, make sure it is in working order. If it’s connected to a monitoring service, tell them when you’ll be gone and where you’re going, along with a phone number of the person keeping an eye on things. (A home protected by a security system is three times less susceptible to a break-in than one without.)
  • Telephone – Turn the ringers on phones down or off. A phone that rings continually tells a prowler there is no one there to pick it up. Also, don’t change the outgoing message on your answering machine. Never program it to announce that you’re out of town, or to give another number where you can be reached. Instead, periodically call in and listen to messages.
  • Travel Plans – Avoid discussing your travel plans in public places. A stranger could overhear them, follow you home and return after you’ve left on your trip.
  • Luggage Tags – Use luggage tags that can’t be easily read. Someone standing behind you at the airport check-in counter could notice your address and write it down. Or, use your business address on your luggage tags.
  • Vehicle – If you leave a car at home, park it in the driveway, not in the garage, and arrange to have it moved from time to time, or have a neighbor park in your driveway. Also, don’t leave a garage door opener in the car, especially if you are parking your car on the street. If a burglar can get in your car, they can get in the garage, which is one step closer to getting inside your home. It is recommended to unplug an electric garage door opener before you leave.
  • House Keys – Do not keep keys hidden around the outside of your home or in your garage. Intruders know all the secret places of where keys could possibly be hidden.
  • Air Conditioner – In the summer, set the air conditioner to a higher temperature, but don’t turn it off. A silent compressor on a hot day is a good indication that the house is unoccupied.
  • Take Final Look – Take one last walk around. After everyone is in the car, check to make sure that all windows and doors are securely locked and that the alarm system has been properly armed.

Also see:  Safety tips for protecting yourself on vacation.


© 2020 The GuideOne Center for Risk Management, LLC. All rights reserved.This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.