Holiday Vacation Safety

Top 10 tips to keep your house safe while you are away

Holiday vacations should be fun and worry-free, but the reality is that this is the ideal time for thieves to target your home. Following these simple safety tips will reduce chances that you fall prey to a home burglary while you’re traveling. Some of these require an investment, but others only take a few minutes and could make a huge difference.

1. Lock up. This may seem like an obvious rule of safety, but sometimes the most obvious rules are the ones we forget to follow. Make sure every door and window in your home is properly shut and securely locked.

2. Avoid posting your whereabouts on social media. It's only natural that you would want to post a status on Facebook or Twitter sharing your excitement about traveling for the holidays. However, you never know who may be looking at your social media pages, and you don't want strangers knowing that your house or apartment is vacant and how long you will be gone.

3. Put lights on a timer. You can set the timer up so that your lights go on at a certain hour each night, making it appear as if you're in your home at all times. Consider setting a few indoor lights on timers as well to help your residence look lived-in even when you're not there.

4. Don't leave a key outside. Having a spare house key is a must. However, it's crucial to be careful about where you store that key. Don’t leave it in a fake rock or place it under your doormat as that will be among the first places criminals will look. Instead, leave a key with a trusted friend or neighbor.

5. Reduce evidence that you aren’t home. Have USPS hold your mail or ask someone to pick up your mail. Do the same for delivery of your daily newspaper. Having items piled up on your doorstep broadcasts to the world, "Hey everyone; I'm not home."

6. Keep valuables out of sight. Go through each room to see if there are any valuable items that are out in the open. Even if these items can't be seen directly from a window, you should find a safe place for them. Store your valuables in unexpected locations.

7. Leave your curtains or shades in their normal position. It would make sense to shut down everything when you leave, but this may not necessarily be the best option. If you don't normally close your shutters or drapes, this could be a sign that you're going to be gone for awhile.

8. Notify police that you’re going to be out of town. Many local jurisdictions will do drive-bys during the time that you will be vacationing. Having a police presence in the neighborhood can be a powerful deterrent.

9. Ask Alexa to help. While you may already use one your virtual assistant features on a day-to-day basis, many of them have an away mode. Set it on vacation or away mode, and your device will play pre-recorded conversations that sound real, and can fool would-be thieves into thinking that people are inside.

10. Invest in a smart doorbell. There are models that can play pre-recorded responses, or even allow you to speak remotely with whoever is at your door to give the illusion that you’re still home.