Taking a vacation is always something to look forward to. Yet you need to be proactive in thinking about how you are going to keep your valuables safe so you don’t come home to find your house burglarized. How to do this is easier than you might think but some things go against certain social trends which you need to avoid.
Crime as a Profession
The typical burglar is neither the cartoonish man in a black mask, beret and black-and-white striped shirt nor is he a stupid, thuggish rogue. Most successful criminals are, in their own way, businessmen with their trade being burglary. Certainly there are the common drug-related thefts, the thefts of opportunity (keys in the car in the driveway for example) and youths looking for a thrill.
Yet the biggest danger in keeping your valuables safe comes from the criminal whose day job is crime. They have a methodology which helps keep them out of jail. This methodology can help you not be a crime victim!
Hiding in Plain Sight
Every year, 1-in-6 homes will be burglarized across the nation. Home break-ins make up almost a quarter of all property crimes. So the risk is very real so how do you keep it from happening to you? The key is not to be noticed.
Sounds simple but it takes more work than you think. Career criminals case neighborhoods looking for tell-tale signs of an empty home. This is the #1 method criminals say works for them.
Red Flags to Avoid
So what sorts of things do criminals look for? Here are many of the most common things which make your home stand out to a criminal.
Piles of Papers: Not stopping the newspaper leaves a pile of uncollected papers which might as well be a “Rob Me!” sign. Stopping the paper is prime pre-vacation task.
Lights: Without a timer, lights can be more of a hindrance than help. Lights (especially in the driveway) left on during the day help criminals spot potential houses with no one at home. So without a timer, better to leave them off.
Fit In: Whenever possible, have a neighbor/friend put out your garbage/recyclable bins even if they are empty. When everyone on your block has these out and your house doesn’t gives criminals an easy way to know which homes are probably empty just by driving by.
HVAC: Keeping your heat or A/C on while you’re away actually saves you money, it also denies another sign to criminals. A home in the heat of summer not running the A/C is another indicator to criminals.
Nowadays people like to remain connected. We have apps which automatically give updates to where we are and what we’re doing and who doesn’t like to post pictures of the gorgeous place you’re visiting? The trouble is career criminals have become just as tech savvy. Those pictures and updates giving your location on Facebook can be the clincher for a criminal. Here’s how quickly it can go down.
Criminal drives by and sees a house with a few papers piled up and no garbage cans out on a pick-up date.
Criminal access your city’s/county’s property records info page. Public records tell the criminal who owns the home.
Criminal then searches sites like Facebook or Twitter for the homeowner’s name.
Once located, the criminal sees your posts of you on the beach in Cancun with a margarita and knows the home is empty.
Then it’s just a matter for them to case the house to see how easy it will be to get in.
Criminals do not like visibility. Whether if it’s due to a motion-detection light in the drive way or lack of cover around fences or your front door, criminals look for places where they can act without being seen from the street.
Awareness: Let your neighbors know you’re leaving and if your neighborhood has a police contact, let them know as well.
Curtains: Leave them mostly open so people going by can see if people are in the home so they can call 911.
Doorways: Try to keep anything from blocking line-of-sight to doorways where the criminal may need time to break in.
Occasional Sweep: Have a neighbor/friend check your home occasionally to pick up something like a UPS package or fliers left on your door.
Peace of Mind
Securing your valuables is easiest if you make a checklist prior to leaving so you don’t forget such things as locking every door/window and taking the above precautions. Criminals go after easy targets so by making yourself less easy goes a long way to ensure your home will be just as you left it when you return from your vacation.