Counting the days until you pack your bags and head out on that long-awaited vacation? No doubt you’ve been busy booking hotels and buying sunscreen to get ready for the trip.
Did home security make your preparation to-do list? If not, you might be unwittingly throwing out the welcome mat to burglars who’ll visit while you’re away.
Burglaries rise about 10 percent between June and August – the months when many Georgia families leave home for a vacation.
The latest statistics from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program note that a burglar strikes every 30 seconds in the U.S. That adds up to over 3,000 burglaries per day.
The average loss from a burglary is $2,661. Sure, insurance might cover that, but a break-in is about more than just lost stuff. In research conducted by SafeWise, half of the burglary victims reported losing items that were irreplaceable or had sentimental value. Even worse, 67 percent said their mental and emotional health took a hit.
Burglaries rise about 10 percent between June and August — the months when many Georgia families leave home for a vacation. More break-ins occur in June than in any other month.
Failing to take a few simple proactive steps to secure your home while you’re vacationing can make it an easy target for thieves. If you want to fall victim to a burglary, here are a few mistakes you’ll want to make:
1. Don’t invest in a monitored security system.
Current data suggests that homes without security systems are three times more likely to be targeted by a burglar. When thieves see video surveillance cameras or security placards and stickers around the home’s perimeter, nine out of 10 will move on to an unguarded home.
Smarter: The first line of defense in protecting your property is installing a home security system with 24/7 professional monitoring. EMC Security, which is owned by Walton EMC, sells security systems and provides monitoring services at a low monthly rate with no contract required.
2. Ignore your vulnerabilities.
Disregard old door or window locks that can be quickly breached. Leave fence gates unlocked to provide easy passage to a screened area and unwatched rear door. Pay no attention to an unlit home exterior that can provide excellent nighttime cover for a thief. Burglars won’t hesitate to take advantage of these weaknesses.
Smarter: Upgrade locks and add video surveillance as part of your security package. EMC Security offers these products for self-install or as part of a security system professional installation package. Add exterior lighting that is motion-activated or has a dusk-to-dawn sensor. Consider installing an energy-efficient LED yard light from Walton EMC to illuminate your yard and driveway at night.
3. Leave your lawn untended.
High grass and overgrown shrubs are a tipoff that your home is vacant. Trash cans left on the curb are also a sign that you’re away.
Smarter: Hire a service or ask a neighbor to mow your lawn. Before you leave, trim tree branches that might allow access to a climbing burglar. Ask a neighbor to put out and take in your trash can for weekly service.d
4. Let the deliveries pile up.
If you receive automatic deliveries of groceries, pet food or home health care supplies, ignored boxes on your porch will attract porch pirates as well as signal that nobody’s home. An overflowing mailbox or newspapers stacked up in the driveway also indicate you’re away.
Smarter: Contact companies to suspend auto deliveries while you’re vacationing. Most offer an easy online request form to temporarily pause service. Complete an online request for USPS Hold Mail service to have your mail held safely at your local Post Office facility until you return. Install a smart video doorbell to alert you if an unexpected package arrives, so you can ask a neighbor to pick it up.
5. Use social media to let everyone know you’re vacationing.
Checking in at the airport or flaunting beach shots might make your friends jealous, but it will also send an open invitation for someone to come and rob your home. Local thieves troll social media all the time looking for opportunity.
Smarter: Take a vacation from social media while you’re away. Wait until you return home to post vacation glamour shots while bragging about what a great time you had.
6. Leave your valuables in the bedroom.
Once inside your home, a burglar will make a beeline for the main bedroom where jewelry, firearms and stashes of extra cash are usually kept. They’ll also carry away that portable safe you left in the floor of your closet.
Smarter: Think like a thief. Don’t stow your treasures in “clever” places such as under the mattress, in boxes or clothing pockets in your closet or in your sock drawer, advises RD.com. (FYI, the freezer is not a sneaky hiding spot either.) Place small items like jewelry and cash in a bank lockbox. If you want a household safe, make sure it’s either too heavy to carry or professionally mounted to a floor or beam so it can’t be removed from the home.
You’ve earned a vacation, so relax and enjoy. Take a few proactive steps to secure your valuables before you leave, so you can come home to find things just as you left them.