Now that the holiday season is in full swing, many criminals are working overtime to take advantage of busy shoppers and Christmas vacations. While the holidays are a time to enjoy the company of family and friends, they also bring a spike in residential crime. Crooks love the holidays as much as everyone else, but chiefly because it’s an opportune time for crime: it gets dark earlier and travel, holiday parties and shopping mean that homes are often left unoccupied – chock-full of presents. It’s enough to make a crook giddy with holiday joy. Here are a few simple steps to secure your home before you hit the road, giving you peace of mind while you’re away – even if you’re just at the mall.
Be Neighborly: Headed out of town? Are any of your neighbors staying home – and could they keep an eye on your home? Let a trusted neighbor know that you’re going out of town and for how long. Perhaps they’ll even park a car in your driveway. You might even ask them to leave tire tracks in your driveway and make foot tracks into the house after a fresh snowfall. Just remember to bring them some Christmas cookies when you return.
Hold the Mail: If you’re going out of town, take advantage of the U.S. Postal Service’s ‘Request Hold Mail’ service. Your mail will be kept safely at your local Post Office™ until you return. Don’t forget to have the newspaper temporarily stopped and re-schedule any package deliveries. A big stack of holiday packages piling up at your front door is a sure sign you’re not home.
Smart Home Automation: If burglars believe your home is occupied they will often be deterred by the increased chance getting caught and less likely to break in. Install good exterior lighting and motion lights around your property to give the appearance that somebody’s home. Keep the interior of your home well lit and seemingly occupied by installing timers to turn on interior lights and a TV or radio. Turn down the ringer on your telephone, so that would be burglars won’t hear that you’re not home to answer. If you have an alarm system, ask your alarm company if they offer remote services such as TotalConnect, allowing you to control your security system remotely, along with devices such as locks, lighting and thermostat all from your smart phone.
Keep Up Appearances: Keep your home landscaping from providing useful cover for intruders. Tall trees or high brush give burglars dark, shadowy hiding spots to conduct their business without interruption. Keep your front yard’s bushes and hedges cut low, especially around windows and entryways where burglars may perch before breaking and entering.
Don’t Advertise That You’re Away: Thieves have gone high tech, using social media sites to find their next target. Always be mindful of what information you share on online. Don’t publicize your travel plans by posting that you’ll be away on Facebook or to people you don’t know well. Can’t wait to share those amazing vacation photos with family and friends back home? Resist the urge to post photos of your vacation on Facebook until after you’ve returned home.
A Little Discretion: Avoid leaving presents in plain sight by placing your Christmas tree away from easily accessible windows. Just purchased a new flat screen TV? A big electronics box left outside the garage indicates to potential burglars that your home has expensive gifts that may be worth stealing. Break down the boxes and packaging before throwing them away and store them inside the garage until the next trash pick-up.
Smart Home Security: No matter where you live, you can’t afford to take chances with your home. If your home has a security system- USE IT. Make sure your system is properly armed and that all doors, gates and windows are closed and locked. Don’t have an alarm system? Have an easy-to-use monitored home alarm system installed to protect your property while you’re away, and to ensure your family’s safety when you’re at home.
Totally Connected: Ever wish you could be in more than one place at a time? Remote video services now make it possible for you to stay connected to your home 24/7/365. Receive activity alerts, view live video and control your security system remotely right from your smart phone– giving you peace of mind in the palm of your hand.
Deter, Deter, Deter: Not only does an alarm system alert you if someone breaks into your home, but it can also deter potential burglars from targeting your home in the first place. Thieves are much less likely to target homes with a monitored alarm system. Let criminals know your home is protected by placing your alarm company’s yard sign in a prominent place in front of your home and displaying stickers near your home’s entryway. These signs send the message that your home is being monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and that targeting your home may be more trouble than it’s worth.
Help Us Help You: Big travel plans? Call Sonitrol New England’s central station and let us know that you’ll be away. The more information we have about the comings and goings from your home will help us to identify suspicious activity faster.