Visiting friend and loved ones this winter is supposed to be joyful, or at least a time to share moments. Many people who will travel to see their family will have a packing checklist to ensure they don’t miss anything before they head out. Homeowners should also consider a “stay-list” of things to do to ensure that their house or apartment is secure and limiting the potential to come home to any nasty surprises. Here are some ideas to keep properties secure while traveling during the holidays.
Use Decorations to Light Up Dark Areas of Your Property
Since many families in Bucks County are already going to be putting up decorations for the holidays, it makes sense to take advantage of them during vacations or when visiting loved ones. Scheduling them to turn on close to sunset may add a few dollars to the electrical bill, but it throws more light on front and backyards. Since many attach them to bushes or trees, it also helps illuminate areas that might normally be avenues for a burglar to approach a home.
Take Care of Mailboxes and Electronic Boxes
Intruders are always looking for signs that a home is unoccupied. Not only does it make their “job” easier, but if they get caught, sentences are usually not as lengthy. Make it harder for them to tell by ensuring that your mail is not delivered when you are away from home. Envelopes sprouting out of mail boxes are an easy way for criminals casing your home to know whether or not you’re there.
As mentioned in a previous article, you should also break down any boxes for electronics, jewelry or any other items that are easy for a burglar to haul off. Even if it means taking care of recycling on the same day a family member receives the gift, it will minimize the risk of coming back to see someone else took it for themselves.
Switch Up Your Emergency Key Location or Don’t Use One
Most homeowners know that house keys can be easy to lose and the odds increase with the number of family members who have access to one. For many, the solution to missing keys is to stick a spare under the welcome mat or in a nearby fake rock. Both can be problematic as most thieves are aware of the mat location and manufactured rocks often have a very flat finish.
One alternative is to change where you keep the key. Some tape it underneath the bottom row of siding at least a few feet away from the door, for example, or put it somewhere near a backyard shed for example. For more peace of mind, consider a home security system that integrates with door locks. They can be accessed either with a numerical code, eliminating the possibility of an intruder finding a spare key at all.
Turn off Your Garage Door Opener
Many people think to lock up their doors, set the home alarm system and make sure the sensors are set up on windows if they have them installed. Far fewer recognize the intrinsic problems with garage doors.
They operate via radio waves and people who have cars with integrated door openers know that it is possible to train another device to use the same frequency. Criminals have taken advantage of this with so-called universal remotes that try a number of different radio signals in an attempt to open up garage doors of targeted homes. The simplest way to avoid this issue is to unplug your opener completely. While it may seem like a hassle, it is often a weak point in securing your home.
New or Upgraded Home Security Systems
Many home security companies can now provide internet-enabled cameras as part of the systems that they provide to consumers as well as reports of tripped sensors. While most homeowners obviously do not want to have to continuously check out any potential problems every hour they are away from home, the ability to check in one’s home can provide some peace of mind.
Perhaps more importantly, having a system that automatically notifies first responders and sets off strobes and sirens will do much to dissuade burglars that had designs on an easy caper. While most systems protect the doors, families with high-value electronics or other easily movable equipment may also want to consider window sensors, they are the easiest entrances to a house for most criminals.