Thieves love holidays – they are always looking for a home that seems empty and that looks ripe for the picking. So even if that much needed break in months away, it is wise to start making a security checklist now so that you don’t leave out anything crucial as you try to fit the fishing gear into your luggage at the last minute.
Whether you are going for a short break or a long one, home security nerves can spoil that holiday you’ve worked so hard for, and it will be much worse if you get home to find you’ve been burgled because you left a patio door unlocked. Some 60% of burglaries occur when there is nobody home, so take heed now.
While having a close neighbour willing to keep a watchful eye out for strangers or unusual activity on your property is always ideal, not everyone has the option. We live in do-it-yourself times and many people don’t want the added responsibility of someone else’s concerns.
First off, don’t discuss your travel plans with anyone who doesn’t strictly need to know, or blather about the exotic locales you plan to visit at your favourite watering hole. By all means tell relatives with whom you are close, especially if you plan to be gone more than a few weeks. But you absolutely don’t want the news of your departure to travel around the neighbourhood or town and attract the wrong attention.
On the other hand, make sure that those who do need to know have your contact details, whether this is a friend or relative keeping an eye on your place, the police or alarm monitoring service.
Keeping mum also extends to your internet activities, so don’t start boasting on Twitter or Facebook about those tropical islands you mean to be lounging on soon, complete with the dates. Remember that social media is ultimately public, no matter how many privacy settings we have, and that it is far too easy to let things slip when we forget there may be hundreds of ‘friends of friends’ taking an interest.
The biggest signal to thieves that a house is empty is uncollected post or flyers building up on your doorstep, so if possible stop all deliveries and ask a neighbour or relative to collect anything visible.
Also be careful what kind of message you leave on your answering machine. Security experts suggest the safest thing is not to change your outgoing message at all – “the Joneses can’t come to the phone right now” (complete with a child’s laughter or barking dog in the background) is perfectly adequate. Also remember to turn down the ringers on your phones so unanswered calls can’t be heard from your garden.
Set timers for lights, radio and televisions. While burglars are used to the trick, they cannot be truly sure your house is empty, and it may still prove a strong deterrent.
Likewise, leave curtains and blinds the way they would normally be when you are home, because burglars are also tipped off by windows covered day and night.
However, perhaps most crucial is to make sure your locks and security systems are well up to date, because a clever thief today just loves a house that has not been professionally upgraded. This is the most important investment you can make before an extended holiday, and you are wise to check out the many options at companies such as metrolocks.co.uk.