The holidaymaker's home security checklist
The last thing you want to think about when you’re off on holiday is home. But, while it might be a time of rest and relaxation, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be vigilant before you leave to prevent burglary. Just like when you leave for work in the morning you check for your keys and phone, you need to have a plan for when you’re away for longer periods. We took a look at everything you need to remember when it comes to home security – so you can focus on sun, sea, and sand once you reach your destination.
Deliveries and post
One thing that’s often overlooked are deliveries and post. It’s a dead giveaway to a burglar if there’s a pile of letters on your doormat, as well as the fact your post may contain important and confidential details used by identity thieves. Royal Mail runs a scheme called Keepsafe, where for a small fee they’ll keep your post for as long as you’re away and deliver it when you get back.
Lights and curtains
As a large proportion of burglaries occurs whilst the occupier is away, it is critical to create a sense that you are in fact not. To make your house look like somebody’s home, think about asking a neighbour to open and close the curtains at different times. You can also purchase a light timer that turns them on and off and electric curtains that’ll close and open automatically without the need to ask your neighbour.
Even if your home is completely secure before you leave, your car could still be a target. If you have a garage, keep your car locked in there. However, if that isn’t an option, you should at least make sure to hide any valuables in the car from view.
Tools, garden equipment and keys
Things that could be used to break in pose a risk that you might not have even thought of before. If you have ladders or tools outside, consider locking them away in a garage or shed where they can’t be used against you. Similarly with spare keys, if they’re left somewhere obvious a seasoned burglar will be able to find it, don’t think they wouldn’t have thought about looking under a plant pot next to the door! This can also nullify your home insurance, so go around the outside of your home and secure what you can.
Over a third of people said they posted updates throughout their vacation, and almost one in ten (9%) post a holiday-related update as soon as they leave the house, on their way to their destination1. This can be a jackpot for thieves, who’ll know you’re away from an extended period and that it’s the perfect time to strike. Have a look over your settings on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to ensure that burglars can’t see you’re not home – some apps also have GPS trackers so ensure they’re turned off. Also, if you want to post holiday photos, it might be best to wait until you’re back to avoid making it too obvious you’re away. Check out our guide to avoiding social media burglary.
Lock away what you can
There are spots in the house that thieves go straight for when they enter a house. So, any cash stored in a shoe box at the back of the wardrobe or jewellery in a sock drawer will be easily found and taken. If you’re going away and there are valuables you have to keep at home, invest in a safe. For extra security, screw it down to the floor.
If the worst does happen, the best chance you’ll have of getting your things back is by marking them as yours. This can be done with something as simple as a permanent marker, but you can also get pens that’ll show up in UV light which may be able to help police. As well as this, register anything valuable with the Immobilise service which means if the police recover it, you’ll be alerted.
Alarms and cameras
One of the biggest deterrents for burglars is alarms and cameras, and having these installed has been shown in the US to decrease incidents of burglary, as well as the value of items taken2. These systems have also become easier and cheaper to put in place, often working with Wi-Fi. If you do have either of these, display any stickers or signs as visibly as possible, and set up everything before you leave the house.
Doors and windows
The final thing to remember before you head off is ensuring the doors and windows are locked. A surprising amount of burglars gain entry through unlocked doors and windows (20% combined3) so reassure yourself with a final check round that they’re all shut.
Now, you’ll feel safe in the knowledge that your home is less likely to be a target, and there’s measures in place if it is. Just don’t forget your passport!
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Additional SourcesAviva Travel Report: Digital Destination – June 2017