It’s the most wonderful time of the year and chances are you’ve made plans to visit family and friends. But, while you’re looking forward to these gatherings and the gift giving that ensues, there are others who are looking at it as an opportunity to help themselves to your valuables while you’re away. That’s right, burglars also love the holidays because homes are empty and many of us even announce that we’re gone when we begin posting vacation photos on social media.
Burglaries aren’t uncommon in the United States, unfortunately, as one occurs about every 18 seconds. You probably remember the “Wet Bandits” from the popular holiday movie Home Alone. They targeted young Kevin McCallister’s neighborhood by dressing up like police officers and going door to door under the guise that they wanted to help protect unsuspecting families from burglaries. If they discovered homeowners were leaving for the holidays, they would wait until the residents left before ransacking the house for jewelry, electronics and other valuable items. While young Kevin is able to thwart the criminals’ attempts at robbing his parents' home through a comical variety of improbable means, normal homeowners need to use different tactics to keep themselves protected.
So before you head out for the winter holidays, here are some helpful tips to help keep your home safe while you’re away.
1. Mix up your schedule
Whether you’re staying home, visiting family and friends or escaping colder weather with a vacation to the tropics, it’s a good idea to change up your daily routine throughout the year and the weeks before leaving for vacation. This will make it difficult for burglars to pinpoint your exact schedule and harder for them to know when to strike.
2. Don't tempt potential thieves
Remember to lock up essential items. Lawnmowers, bicycles and grills are easy pickings for thieves. The best thing to do is store them out of sight. Be sure to lock areas that provide easy access to your property, like garage doors. Keeping things stored safely in a locked garden shed or garage can save you the hassle of having to purchase replacements.
3. Always keep your doors and windows locked
Whether you’re spending the holidays away or at home, always remember to keep your doors and windows locked. While this seems like common sense, locking your front, side and back doors prevents burglars from entering your home through the easiest and most obvious route. Unlocked windows, especially at night, can provide burglars with easy entry.
4. Hide your valuables in a safe place
Leaving valuable items, such as expensive jewelry and watches, in plain sight while you’re away is never a good idea. There’s always a chance these items will be stolen, so before you lock the door and head out to your holiday destination, tuck all of your valuable items in a safe and hidden place. Keep this hiding place a secret between you and trusted family members. And, if possible, select a safe that can be bolted to the floor so thieves can’t simply pick it up and walk out with it.
5. Don’t advertise your holiday travel plans
Today, updating your Facebook status, Twitter or Instagram is one way burglars identify when you’ll be gone. Don’t tell strangers, friends of friends or followers when you’re going out of town. Share your vacation photos when you get home.
For additional safety suggestions, like stopping mail and newspaper delivery and using light timers to make your house appear occupied, read ”Security Tips to Protect Your Home.”
As we count down to the New Year, Mercury Insurance would like to remind everyone to have a safe and memorable holiday full of cherished time with family and friends, and free of homeowners insurance claims. Season’s greetings and happy New Year!