Home burglaries usually peak in late summer, when people are often away from home enjoying the outdoors or off on an extended vacation. But you can take some steps to protect your home and peace of mind while you're away.
HOME SECURITY SYSTEMS
If you don't already have a home security system, you can install one to warn you of intruders. The days of hardwired landlines are long gone; many security systems work with cellphones or internet connections. You can also link an alarm system to an overall smart home, which allows you to remotely monitor activity from a computer or device. (This also helps you adjust your lighting remotely without using a timer!)
Video surveillance and door cameras allow you to check in on what's going on in real time. Cameras bump up the cost of your system by about $150 to $200 per camera, but the peace of mind could be well worth it. For a small additional fee, you can add smoke, fire and carbon monoxide alarms to your system, which can alert you and the fire department of fires before they rage out of control.
When you install a security system, contact your insurance provider. They'll often provide a discount on your policy, and can steer you towards the upgrades that offer the best savings.
When hiring a home security monitoring service, check as many references as possible and make sure they hold the appropriate license.
GOOD SAFETY HABITS
Home security systems play a vital role on the front line of defense, but your maintenance and household habits protect you in equal measure. Exterior lights with motion detectors are excellent deterrents for would-be thieves. Make sure they are placed to illuminate nooks and crannies where an intruder might hide, as well as at your door.
Home maintenance makes a big difference. Check your doors to be sure they have secure hinges, strike plates, knobs or handles. And be sure that the door fits squarely into the jamb. If your door has glass near the latch, a dead bolt keyed on both sides may discourage a burglar from breaking the glass to get in. Replace or repair any damaged doors or hardware.
Avoid making expensive items easy to find. Keep valuables like televisions, computers and lawn equipment out of sight.
HOW TO HANDLE VACATIONS
When you're on vacation, take these steps to deter burglars:
- Let a trusted neighbor know how long you'll be away, and ask them to keep an eye on your house.
- Wait until after the vacation to talk about it on social media. Don't post your travel plans, check in to distant locations or post travel photos while you're away.
- Leave a car in the driveway or ask a friend or neighbor to park there occasionally.
- Set the lights to turn on and off with an automatic timer.
- Hire a lawn care service or ask a neighbor to attend to your lawn while you're away.
- Have someone pick up mail and newspapers, or place a hold on delivery.
- Inform your security monitoring service that you'll be on vacation.
Paul F. P. Pogue is a reporter for Angie's List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.
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