Either way, whenever you go away, your property is more likely to be targeted by burglars and other criminals.
Unfortunately, recent statistics show that police are failing to solve 95 percent of burglaries. That’s a shocking figure – and one which emphasises just how important it is that you do everything you can to protect your house when you leave it vacant.
Thankfully, there are lots of quick and easy things you can do to make your property more secure.
Here are six things you can do to protect your home when you go away.
It may seem obvious, but, in order to keep your home – and your belongings – safe, it’s absolutely imperative that you lock all entrances to your property. Of course, this includes front and back doors. However, burglars often gain entry via windows and side doors. As such, you need to ensure these are all closed and locked too.
Additionally, if you have a spare set of keys, do not leave these in plain sight (on a coffee table, for example); and do not leave them on a key holder near your front or back door – since experienced burglars may be able to steal them by using an implement to draw them through your letterbox.
When you go away, you may be tempted to close your curtains. Unfortunately, this may only increase your risk of being targeted (since it may draw attention to the fact that no one is home). Remember, it is a far more obvious indicator that your home is empty if curtains are closed during the day than if they are open at night.
That said, leaving your curtains open ushers in its own problems.
Imagine how your house appears from a burglar’s perspective. Is your living room full of expensive goodies – such as laptops, tablets, a smart TV, an expensive sound system, etc?
If so, this could make your home a potentially lucrative target. So, aim to make your home look as uninviting (from a burglar’s perspective) as possible. This means hiding all valuables – preferably under lock and key – in a closet, basement or secure safe. In addition to expensive tech items, make sure antiques, jewellery, important documents and anything else that could be of value to a burglar are properly concealed.
If you’re a frequent traveller, live in a high-crime area or own a property that contains items that are of significant value, you may want to consider investing in professional home security equipment and strategies.
Perhaps the most important piece of home security equipment is high-quality locks. For maximum protection, doors should be secured with deadlocks employing a hardened steel bolt.
If you are concerned about the security of windows, consider upgrading to laminated glass – which is much stronger than the glass typically used in windows.
Lighting can also play a huge role in protecting your property. In particular, motion-activated outdoor lights can make your home far less appealing to a burglar since they will be illuminated as they work. Additionally, investing in a simple timer switch for hall, living room and bedroom lights can help you give the impression that someone is home even when they’re not.
Finally, of course, you may want to install a burglar alarm and a CCTV system. The presence of home security systems such as these greatly reduce the chances of criminals targeting your property. And CCTV, in particular, may play a key role in returning your belongings and bringing those responsible to justice if a crime does take place. If cost is an issue, high-quality dummy CCTV and alarm systems can be implemented as an effective visual deterrent.
Timed lighting will go some way when it comes to making your property look occupied. However, there are several additional things you can do to support this illusion.
For example, ask a neighbour to park in your driveway while you are away – and, of course, offer to do the same for them whenever they’re next away. The most effective burglars spend time assessing which properties to target. And the presence of a vehicle in the driveway – especially one that comes and goes – will give a strong impression that the property is occupied.
It’s also important to make sure you cancel milk, newspaper and any other regular deliveries for the duration of your trip – since the presence of these on your doorstep will provide an obvious indicator that no one’s home. Although you can’t cancel mail deliveries, you can use the Royal Mail’s Keepsafe service to prevent mail being delivered to your property. The Royal Mail will keep hold of your post for 100 days, allowing you to collect it whenever you’re back.
If you’re going away for a significant amount of time, arrange for a neighbour or professional gardener to mow your lawn and keep the front of your house in order (by removing junk mail and so on).
Even if a burglar can’t gain access to your property directly, they may still be able to steal valuable items from your garden if they’re not properly secured. Store valuable power tools, bicycles, expensive garden features and anything else that may be of interest to a burglar either in your home or in a secure (that means locked) garden shed.
Remember also to remove anything from your garden that may help a burglar access your property. This includes ladders, crowbars, wrenches and anything else that may help a criminal break in. Despite the stereotype, most burglars do not carry around tools since this draws too much attention. As such, they’d much rather use anything that’s already at the property to commit their crimes.
How many people in your social networks do you know? I mean, really know? Unfortunately, many burglars target people they know (either directly or indirectly). One of the ways they are able to find suitable targets is to scan their social feeds to see who’s on holiday. Even if you’ve done everything right, if the wrong person gets wind of the fact that your home is empty, you’re making yourself vulnerable.
To minimise the chances that your social media activities increase your odds of being targeted, ensure that your privacy settings are properly set, remove people from your network that you don’t really know and don’t post pictures of your holiday until you’re back home.
Churchill Security is a leading cross-industry security provider. We provide security professional solutions across the UK and are able to provide high-quality security solutions for businesses operating in any industry.