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16 Ways to Protect Your Home While You're Gone

Residential crime usually spikes during July and August as families leave for summer vacations. Before you head out, take some extra precautions to ensure your house and belongings are safe.

A potential burglar looks for signs of a vacant house, but you can use these tricks to protect your home and fool anyone into thinking you're there.

Here are a few things to look out for:

  • A dark quiet house is a dead giveaway that nobody is home. Put a few lights on a timer to mimic what you would be doing on a typical night. Put your TV on a timer for a few hours each night to make it more realistic.
  • An exterior light and a motion detector is another great first line of defense. It gives a burglar fewer places to hide in the dark while looking for a place to break in.
  • Invest in a security system. Make sure everyone in the household knows how to operate the system, and they use it daily. Place the stickers or yard signs near the front or back door. This will be a deterrent for a potential burglar.
  • Lower your home phone volume to the lowest ring setting. An unanswered phone could tip off a burglar that no one is home.
  • A sure sign that a house is empty is piled up newspapers, flyers or mail in the mailbox. Have a friend or neighbor swing by daily to pick them up. Canceling the paper and mail is an option, but you never know who could get that list. If you are going to leave your house for an extended period of time, arrange to have your lawn taken care of as well.
  • Make sure that all exterior doors have sturdy deadbolt locks. Patio doors should be secured with a pipe or piece of wood that fits into the track to prevent the door from being forced open.
  • Many groups or fellow military families compile a list of deployed service members in order to send care packages and letters. Their intentions are sincere, but if this list of families is lost, your house may be an easier target to a burglar. For your home safety, refrain from giving out your personal information.
  • Use your family and friends for support during a deployment, but avoid posting stickers or ribbons on your house because they tell everyone driving by that your spouse is not home.
  • Never leave a key under doormats or any other fairly obvious outdoor location. A burglar will most likely find it. Give a key to a trusted neighbor in case you're ever locked out.
  • Close all drapes and blinds before you leave. It's imperative to shut them in rooms where expensive items are on display. To a thief it's an advertisement for all the things they could have if they broke in. Invest in a safe or safety deposit box to store cash, jewelry and other valuables. If it is an irreplaceable item, this will be the safest place for it.
  • Social media is great for keeping up with friends, but it's also a great way for unwanted strangers to know when you leave for a trip. Let your kids know they shouldn't post on Facebook, Twitter or their blog about leaving for a trip.
  • Keep your shrubs and trees manicured, especially near all doors and windows. This limits places for a potential burglar to hide when looking for a point of entry.
  • Turn off the garage door so it can't be opened with a universal remote.
  • If you are driving and parking at an airport, make sure you leave the GPS at home. A thief would be able to plug in the device, click home and find an empty house.
  • Call the police to let them know you will be gone for a while. Many stations offer free security surveillance in your absence.

The thought of what could happen in your absence is enough to worry anyone, but with these precautions you and your family will have piece of mind knowing your home and belongings are protected.