More than 2.1 million burglaries occurred in the U.S. in 2012, totaling an estimated $4.7 billion in losses, according to the FBI. Most burglars look for unoccupied homes, especially those with signs that the inhabitants are away for an extended period of time. Of course, cancelling your vacation plans would be a bit extreme, but you can reduce the chance of being robbed while you’re away with these tips:
Secure Your Home
In a 2012 survey conducted by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, most burglars reported entering a home through an open door or window or forcing one open. Just one in eight said they picked a lock or used a previously acquired key to get inside.
Before leaving your home, make sure all your doors are locked and every window is shut securely. Don’t leave a garage door opener in a car that’s parked outdoors—a burglar could easily smash the car window and gain access to the home through the garage. Take all hidden keys with you or leave them with a trusted friend or family member. If you have a tool shed, be sure it’s locked as well; a thief may use your tools to break in, or simply steal the tools.
Don’t Leave Expensive Items in Plain View
Take a look through all your windows to be sure burglars can’t see anything that might entice them to break in. If possible, move them or obscure them from view.
Make It Look as if Someone Is Home
It may not be the most environmentally friendly tip on this list, but: Leave a few lights on, and maybe a radio or TV. It helps create the illusion that someone is home. Better yet—put them on timers. Set outdoor lights on timers too, so your home is well-lit after sundown. Have your newspaper delivery temporarily stopped, or ask a neighbor to pick them up. Do the same for your incoming mail. You might even ask someone to move a car around occasionally.
Don’t Post on Social Media
Never broadcast your plans to leave town on your social networks. You never know who will get that information, and it’s an open invitation to burglars.
Wi-Fi Video Monitoring With DropCam
Use your smartphone to monitor your home with DropCam HD or a similar setup. These devices offer real-time surveillance 24/7 through a Wi-Fi-enabled security camera that streams the video to your phone. It will even send you an alert if something is askew.
Buy Property Insurance
Sometimes things go wrong, even if you take all the proper precautions. Invest in property insurance in case someone does break in. Insurance companies like The Hartford offer personalized coverage for renters and homeowners, and many will offer a discount to those who install a security system. It’s worth the peace of mind while you’re away.