The holiday season brings holiday travel and, with it, increased vulnerability to home burglaries and property-related crime. For thieves, an unattended home is an attractive target, and each year, travelers return from vacation to discover that their homes have been burglarized. While a home insurance policy may allow financial recovery after the fact, no insurance settlement can replace family treasures or restore peace of mind after a burglary. Before leaving for the holidays, follow these steps to protect your home.
Invest in a security system, and activate it.
Installing a home security system affords protection of your belongings 365 days a year—but it only works if you activate it. Do not assume that a security system decal or yard sign will be effective as a deterrent. Make sure that your system is armed while you are traveling, and secure all doors and windows.
Be selective about who knows your travel plans.
One important home protection tactic is to be strategic about how you publicize your travel plans. In general, you should avoid advertising your travel on social media—letting the world know that you are on vacation is tantamount to inviting burglars to your home. There are, however, several people that you should notify about your travel. If you have a neighborhood watch or security patrol, you can request that they check on your property while you are away. You may also want to let a trusted neighbor know about your travel so that they can be alert to any suspicious activity.
Pause newspaper and mail delivery.
One obvious mark of an empty home is an overflowing mailbox or pile of newspapers on the front porch. Before leaving for a trip, pause both mail and newspaper delivery. In the alternative, ask a friend to pick up deliveries for you on a regular basis and check your home at the same time.
Consider installing light timers.
If you do not have a housesitter visiting your home on a regular basis, it may be worthwhile to invest in a few timers for interior and exterior lights. Inexpensive timers are available in drugstores and hardware stores, and most models offer a variety of programmable settings.
Inventory your belongings.
Completing a home inventory is always advisable for insurance purposes because it catalogues your belongings. Before leaving for holiday travel, update your insurance inventory and coverage to account for any recent purchases or acquisitions. It is a good idea to take photographs of valuable items, and you should consider compiling a list of serial numbers for home electronics. Inventories are helpful for insurance purposes, but they can also be helpful in recovering any lost or stolen property.
The holidays can and should be a time for celebration. Make sure, however, that you are proactive about protecting your home during the holiday season. In general, take common sense measures to minimize your vulnerability during any extended absence. With preparation comes peace of mind and a safer, happier holiday season.