Here’s the scenario: you’ve just come home from a week-long getaway with family or your closest friends. The weather was great the whole week, there were no hitches along the way, and you had a smashing time overall. But then you notice something amiss as you come up to your driveway – a toppled-over garden ornament, an open window, or an unlocked door. As you enter, you witness the unthinkable. Electronics, appliances, all of your valuables… Gone.
Anyone can be the victim of a burglary, though we try not to be. Despite this, thousands of homes across the country are broken into each year, often while they’re away. In this day and age, however, the common home security measures that we undertake by habit won’t be enough to stop or otherwise prevent the common crook to make off with all of your stuff. Here are a few things you can do to make sure your home is safe and secure at all times.
Make it look like you’re still around
If there’s any house that burglars don’t want to break into, it’s a house that’s actively occupied. So a great idea is to make your house look like it’s still being occupied even while you’re away.
One way to do this is to keep your lights and electronics on when you leave the house. However, you should be wary of how long you’ll be gone – if you’re out of the house for anywhere from several days to several weeks, you may end up similarly robbed by soaring electricity bills when you get home. Luckily, we live in a time when technology now has the solution to that problem. Electronic timers are now available that let you set when your lights and electronics should turn on and off, which you simply plug into your existing power or light sockets.
To really sell the idea that you’re still at home, try to set your electronic timers to turn on and off at varying intervals every day – house lights that turn on at exactly 6 PM and turn off at exactly 9 PM consistently for several days comes off as more suspicious than realistic, and smarter, more persistent thieves will probably be able to connect the dots from there.
Another thing you can do is to prevent things from building up at your house. This buildup can be of anything – packages, newspapers, and the like. Mail overflowing from a mailbox is practically a neon sign pointing to an unoccupied house, which only the blind will fail to notice. If you tend to receive things in the mail, you can notify your mail carrier to have all packages addressed to you to be held at their pickup facility for a few days. You can do the same to your magazine publisher or local newspaper if you have a subscription. If your house has a lawn, the grass will no doubt grow while you’re away, and an overgrown lawn gives the same sort of indication as a pile up of mail or newspapers. You should therefore trim your lawn nice and short before you leave.
If you’re on good terms with your neighbours next door or across the street, now would be a good time to ask them a favour to have them mow your lawn or pick up your mail in your stead. If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow, you should probably ask your neighbour to shovel your driveway for you as well.
Keep an eye out
If you’ve already gotten a neighbour you trust to look after your lawn or driveway, you pretty much already have a person looking after your house in your absence. Ask them to check on it every once in a while and look out for anything suspicious. Be sure to give them your contact details, like your phone number, so they know how to reach you in case they do notice anything unusual. If you don’t have the sort of relationship with your neighbours, you could look into installing a surveillance camera or two in strategic locations. Some cameras actually feature secure broadcasting capabilities that will allow you to access your camera feed from wherever you are as long as you have access to the Internet.
Besides your house, you should also look out for what you do while you’re on holiday. Though it will be difficult, do try as much as possible to resist the urge to post anything about your getaway on social media. By doing so, you’ll not only give away your current location to thieves, but you’ll also let them know that your house is empty and an easy target. If you really want to show off to your friends that badly, it would be much safer to do so once you’ve returned home.
Hold down the fort
Although getting your house to look like it’s occupied is enough to scare away most burglars, some of the particularly observant ones may be able to see through the facade. In order to prevent break-ins and truly secure your home, you may have to take some measures to actively discourage thieves from targeting your house.
You can start with some of the obvious measures – locking down every corner of the house, using deadbolt locks where necessary, taking the keys with you, purchasing a safe to store your valuables, and more. If you are often away from the house for extended periods of time, you may want to consider installing a full-fledged security system with surveillance and alarm capabilities. You may also consider installing metal grates over your windows to prevent break-ins – this option does come at the cost of making your house look like a prison, but can add a bit of flair to your exterior if executed correctly.
Securing your home while your away is not an easy task. It requires a commitment from you in time, effort, and money. But by following some of these steps and putting in the work and the preparation, you can rest easy knowing your belongings at home are safe and sound, and you can enjoy all of your future adventures and getaways to the fullest.
Executive Editor at Best in Australia. Mike has spent over a decade covering news related to business leaders and entrepreneurs around Australia and across the world.