7 Ways to Avoid Unwanted Guest During the Holidays
December 8, 2022
The holidays mean travel for many families, and travel means unguarded homes. Burglars tend to do their homework, and one item on the top of their wish list is an empty home! Keep your home security top-of-mind before heading out of town by checking out our top seven ways to avoid unwanted guests this holiday season.
1) Hold your newspaper, mail, and package deliveries
Seasoned and rookie burglars alike will translate a pile of newspapers on the lawn and a mailbox bursting at the seams as an empty home. It’s also a good idea to be cautious of any packages being delivered; consider re-routing those to your place of business or a friend’s home. Alternatively, you can contact each one individually to place your hold by clicking through the links below.
FedEx – Vacation Hold
UPS – Vacation Hold
USPS – Hold Mail Service
Newspaper – Varies by provider
Pro tip: When placing your newspaper on vacation hold, we recommend: contacting your newspaper carrier directly (after you’ve notified customer service); starting the hold several days before leaving to ensure success; and tipping your carrier for even greater success.
2) Secure a house sitter
You may already have a neighborhood watch program, but that isn’t foolproof. Consider an even more secure plan – start a house-sitting club. That way, when you offer to house-sit for your neighbors, they will do the same for you. This also works with close friends and relatives.
Why it works.
When your home remains stagnant (the snow isn’t shoveled, the grass isn’t cut, the curtains and blinds are untouched, the Chinese delivery menu from last week, the newspapers piling up, etc.), it becomes more and more obvious that not only are you gone, but nobody is paying attention. Having someone come over once or twice a day makes your home appear lived-in rather than vacant. Now there is a trail of activity that doubles as care for your home and a deterrent to most burglars.
Pro tip: Don’t know your neighbors? Nextdoor.com is a social network specifically designed as a meet and greet for specific neighborhoods. It also alerts you when a streak of vandalism occurs in your area.
3) Lock up
Don’t make it too easy for opportunistic burglars! The obvious point of entry is the front door, but be sure to lock all windows and doors in your home. Often forgotten is the entry from the garage, basement windows, and balcony entrances. We recommend heavy-duty, double-cylinder deadbolt locks on your doors.
Pro tip: The FBI reports 60% of all burglaries to include forcible entry, which even the best lock cannot thwart. If your budget allows, invest in heavy metal or solid wood doors that are at least 1 ¾” thick. Burglars don’t want the extra hassle and they won’t be able to kick in a good, quality door!
Can’t afford that? Install a storm door. A survey of burglars stated storm doors slow them down, which makes for a greater risk of being caught. They are more likely to take the path of least resistance.
4) Light up
Your home can never have too many lights on while you are gone.
No lights equals nobody home.
It’s true that most burglaries happen on a weekday during daylight hours (when they know you are at work), but a nighttime burglary is much more desirable. If they can deduce that you are gone for an extended period of time, this gives burglars the autonomy to ransack your home at night, when the neighborhood watch program is asleep. It also equates to more time spent in your home, whereas daytime robberies tend to be rush jobs.
Pro tip: Instead of setting light timers to go on and off at the same time each day, use a variable timer, or better yet, get a Z-wave lamp module that allows you to set scenes or remotely control your lights via your smartphone.
5) Do not notify your entire social media network of your travel plans
It may sound trivial, but letting your Facebook “friends” know of your every move could lead to trouble, especially if the wrong person finds out you are gone. That also means resisting the urge to “check-in” at the Hard Rock Cafe or Universal Studios. To that end, it’s best if you and your kids don’t talk about upcoming travel plans in public, including at school. You just never know who is paying attention.
Pro tip: Wait to post your vacation photos to your social media networks until after you’ve safely returned home!
Bonus: Consider hiding your house on Google Maps, which may showcase the contents of your garage, your vehicles, and your license plate numbers.
6) Do notify the police
Depending on your area, the local police department may be willing to do a couple of extra drive-bys when residents are gone for extended periods of time. It only takes one or two squad car appearances and most burglars are going to head the other direction.
Pro tip: Getting to know your local police officers is a good idea. Asking them to drive by is not a replacement to the other security pointers listed, but a good complement to them. And there is no harm in asking!
7) Install a monitored home security system
The only surefire way to ensure 24/7 residential security? A monitored home security system. Security cameras act as your eyes and ears so you can enjoy your time away, worry-free. Intruders don’t stand a chance against a burglar alarm and are likely to avoid homes that are protected.
You can never be too protected when it comes to home security. We recommend taking as many home security measures as your budget allows to keep your home and your family safe. The peace of mind you’ll get, especially when traveling for the holidays, is priceless!
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