Your house has everything in it: your photo albums, keys, credit cards, furniture, clothes, jewelry, electronics, and everything you deem valuable. The things that are most important to you need to be protected. Whether you’re on a trip for a few days or a few months, these are the top 10 things you need to do to ensure your house is secure from burglary and theft.
1. Set indoor lights on automatic timers.
Lights can be set on automatic timers to go on and off with small devices that plug into your outlets. I’d recommend at minimum having a living room light as well as lights for the rooms that face the street to be on automatic timers. Have the different rooms’ lights go on and off at different times from one another, so it’s not obvious that the lights are on automatic timers.
2. Get an alarm system, or at least a sign for one.
Alarm systems can help deter entry into your house and if a burglar comes into your house, the alarm system will immediately trigger and normally notify the local police. Alarm systems can be expensive and a bit inconvenient, especially with kids in the house. In the very least, you can invest in the ubiquitous ADT lollipop sign that most houses have placed at the front of their house. It’s about $30 on eBay and it will probably be the best investment you can make for deterring burglars from entering your home.
3. Install deadbolts on all entry doors.
Houses normally have deadbolts on outside facing doors including your front door and the side door for your garage. However, to be extra secure, I’d recommend installing a deadbolt on the door from your garage to your house. By making it harder for a burglar to come through the door, it decreases the chances they’ll keep at it and force entry into your home.
4. Get motion detector lights for the garage and back yard.
Most houses have this installed already, so make sure these are working properly. These lights illuminate in darkness when they detect motion nearby. The majority of burglaries happen at night, so this is another step you can take to prevent break-ins.
5. Reroute your mail to a post office box.
The easiest giveaway that house residents haven’t been at home for a long time is an overflowing mailbox. Prevent this by routing your home address mail to a post office box and having the post office save your mail for up to 30 days.
6. Cancel the newspaper and advertisement deliveries.
Even after you’ve rerouted all your addressed mail, what really stuffs the mailbox are the advertisements with coupons as well as daily or weekly newspapers. You can unsubscribe from all of these delivery services similar to email. Just look in the fine print or on the back of the advertisements to find out how to unsubscribe.
7. Have your neighbor or a friend help clean up your mailbox and front door area.
Mail can get in your mailbox or in your front door area in the form of junk mail, mail addressed to previous residents, hand-delivered advertisements (ie. from real estate agents, churches, contractors, etc.) and deliveries via UPS, Fedex and/or USPS. Ideally, you can have a reliable, trusted neighbor who can spot check your mailbox and front door area on a daily basis for anything that’s lying around and collect those things for you. If your neighbors aren’t the best candidates for this task, then get the help of a friend who lives nearby to come at least twice per week to do this.
8. Make sure your front lawn is mowed and weeds are removed.
If you are away for more than a few weeks, enlist the help of a friend, neighbor, or a lawn-mowing service to get your front lawn mowed and weeds removed on at least a biweekly basis. An unkept lawn and front area of your house is another clue to burglars that residents of a house have been away for a while. Keep your house’s front appearance up, as if you were indeed at home.
9. Hide all valuables or open a lockbox at a local bank.
If a burglar really wants to get in your house, they will find a way. If that is the case, make it as hard as possible for the burglar to actually find the things they’ll be looking for which includes credit cards, electronics, jewelry, keys, etc. Store it in a place that the burglars would never look. Perhaps seal it in an obscure box in the garage or hide things in the kids’ toy chest. Better yet, put everything valuable in a safe box that is bolted to the wall and hidden somewhere in the house. Another option is to open up a lockbox at a local bank where you can keep your valuables and important documents completely away from your home. Lock boxes at banks normally cost about $10-$20 per month, depending on the size of the box.
10. Get home insurance.
Your home is your biggest asset and it should rightfully be protected with home insurance. Not only does it cover your house for theft, but it typically also covers your house for damage by fire, hail, windstorms, lightning, and vandalism. Normally, floods and earthquakes are covered at extra premium costs. Don’t leave for a trip without home insurance.
When taking these precautions, you’ll leave for your trips with the peace of mind that your house is protected and safe from burglary. And since you’ll be prepared, you’ll be able to enjoy the experiences of your trip even more.