When heading out of town for an extended period of time, you may think that locking up and setting an alarm will do the trick. However, burglars know how to get the job done quickly. So quickly, in fact, that an alarm doesn’t really hinder them from grabbing a few prized possessions and bolting out the door before the cops show up. In the span of a few minutes, a robber can snatch the blanket from your bed, toss a few laptops, jewelry, and your safe box in the center, and make off with it before neighbors have even had a chance to peer though their blinds at the racket coming from your home. The scary thing is that burglars exist everywhere- Alaska, Arkansas, Maryland, Nebraska, Illinois and in every other state. The best way to avoid becoming burglarized while away on vacation is to convince others that you’re home. This can be done by taking note of the signs burglars look for and remedying them to your advantage.
The drapes are down
You may not want people to see into your home when you’re away for fear they will recognize that you have nice things and target your home for burglary, but closing all your drapes is just as damaging. It alerts potential burglars that you’re gone, and worse, tends to also be a sign that you have things to hide. This doesn’t mean you should leave your drapes wide open. Having some of them down helps insulate your home, and if you’ve turned off the AC for the duration of your trip, they will keep the interior cooler and less exposed to the elements. A good rule is to keep some partially open, in a way that doesn’t express your absence, but merely looks like a normal way to keep your curtains.
Packages on the porch
If a dozen Amazon boxes litter the front door, thieves will wonder how long they have accumulated there and may check in to see if you’ve picked them up the following day. If you know you’re going to be out of town for an extended length of time, do not order things online to be shipped to your front door. Even your regular mail can be stopped for a couple days if you leave a note for your local postal worker, which prevents the mailbox from becoming crammed with days’ and weeks’ worth of mail. Newspapers are also a giveaway, and are much more visible than the mail in your mailbox or the packages on your front porch.
If the lawn is usually finely trimmed and lately looks akin to a jungle, it pretty much screams to anyone passing through the neighborhood that you’re on vacation. Burglars will be on the lookout for overgrown grass, sagging plants, and yards covered in dead leaves. And while some people never prioritize a tidy yard, it is usually easy to identify which homes regularly keep their lawn in order and which homes don’t whether they’re in town or not. To avoid suspicion, having a trusted lawn crew come by on the weekends can greatly help the facade of your home resemble its usual, neat self.
Constant or no light
If you leave a home completely dark, it will stand out on the street at night as the one clearly unoccupied home. However, you may also invite suspicion if you make a point of turning on every light in the house (particularly the ones near windows) to deter burglars. As usual, either extremes are red flags, so keeping a few sparse lights on looks more natural than all or none. If you’re concerned about electricity bills, invest in some timed lights that only blink on during the evening hours, or space the time the individual lamps come on apart from one another. Another helpful deterrent is the flickering of a television set. There is a product called fake tv that produces the appearance of a glowing television, although it is the size of a coffee cup; this can be a cheaper alternative to leaving your actual television set on in your absence.
You Facebooked about it
Avoid mentioning on Facebook or Twitter that your family is heading out of town for the week. You may be tempted to check into the airport bar in the Bahamas to incite jealousy among friends, but you may as well put an advertisement in the newspaper that your house is ready for looting. Nothing on the internet is totally private. Even if you trust your friends not to break into your home, their friends may spot the message you left on their feed and put two and two together. Websites can also be easily hacked. If you feel compelled to brag about your trip, do so after your return by posting pictures showing how sunburned you got at the beach.
If someone stops by the house every afternoon for about 20 minutes, they’re likely coming to tend to the plants or feed the dog in the backyard. It would take a burglar who lives nearby to notice a detail like this, but to avoid attracting attention this way, have your house-sitter stop by in the evening when it seems like people should be home anyway. If you’re comfortable with them, giving them a spare key so they can check on the house and maybe alternate which lights are on and off and which shades are drawn can be helpful. The sitter could also come by at varying times so that a watchful burglar never feels certain that your home will be empty. If a thief suspects that anyone will be inside, it is unlikely that they will try to break in.
If you’re heading out of town during winter in a snow-prone city, the snow on your lawn and driveway can be an indicator that you’re out of town. The lack of footprints or an unshoveled driveway indicates that nobody has been in and out since the last snowfall, either on foot or in a car. As mentioned before, having someone stop by and maintain the look of your home is helpful, even if they just wander around the front yard a bit to create footprints. And while expensive, some people have heated driveways and front steps that melt the snow away to keep the path to their home clear. This, too, will probably keep robbers away from your home.
A packed vehicle
You have to be careful when loading luggage into your car before taking a long trip, as anyone driving by can see this unmistakable clue to your departure. You may think your neighbors are safe enough, but you never know which maintenance workers — plumbers, lawn care agencies, or TV repair men — are in the neighborhood tending to another home that see you loading your car. Teenagers in the neighborhood may also take note, considering the attractive pool you have in your backyard that is ready to be trashed. You can load your car more discreetly by backing it into your garage and loading from there, rather than out in public view for anyone to see.