As summer approaches, I already hear folks talking about their vacation plans. Excitement abounds this time of year in anticipation of adventures that will take you and your family to parts of the country or the world that you have never experienced. We all hope for a wonderful vacation, but all too often, the return home reveals another victim of summer crime.
Like most endeavors, travel begins with preparation. That's where we can help.
It's always sad to hear someone tell me that when they returned home, someone had vandalized their house, their car, their business, or their storage unit while they were on vacation. The list goes on. Maybe it has even happened to you.
Let's address the issue of keeping your home safe while you're on vacation.
Mail - Make sure and notify your post office to hold your mail until you have returned. There is a simple form they have that will indicate the stop and start dates for delivery.
Newspaper Delivery - Notify your newspaper delivery service to discontinue your delivery for the time you're away. For those whose delivery does not have this service, have a neighbor, friend or relative pick up your newspapers and any other items that have been delivered to your doorstep.
Garage Door - Make sure your garage door is locked from the inside before you leave.
Windows - For around a dollar, you can purchase very simple window locks from your hardware store. Place these locks on each of your sliding windows. For some sliding glass doors, a hard wooden dowel placed in the runner works just fine.
Alarm System - If you have a monitored alarm system installed in your home, notify the alarm company of the dates you will be on vacation.
Residential Home Checks - Many police departments in our area still offer residential vacation home checks. This is a free service that you should definitely take advantage of. You can leave your best contact number(s) with the police so they may call you if there is an incident.
Lighting - If you do not have an automatic light timer, get one! It is simple to install and operate (no tools or parts needed) and will turn your interior lights on and off at any interval that you program the system. People ask me about exterior or porch lights. If they aren't on a timer, I personally opt to leave them on the entire time to ensure I have lighting at night.
Vehicles - If you have a car parked outside while you're gone, make sure the doors are locked and don't leave any "items of opportunity" in plain view for the nosy thief.
Pro tip - As funny as it seems, I have always believed that the size 13, dirty work boots placed outside your front door serve as an amazing deterrent to the bad guys. (Actually, it was a bad guy that told me about this technique of crime prevention).
As you prepare to leave on your vacation, make sure an adult makes a walk thru of your home and checks the windows and doors. While you're at it, don't forget to check the appliances and stove to ensure they are turned off.
While all these items seem like common sense, you would be surprised at the number of residential burglaries that still occur during the summer while folks are on vacation. Remember, just as you're preparing for the vacation season, so are the bad guys!
This is the first in a four part series at "For Your Safety" on the topic of vacation safety. In the coming weeks:
Part II - Safety on the Road
Part III - Safety in Hotels
Part IV - Safety Traveling Abroad