However, there are many measures you can take to protect your home so you can relax and enjoy your holiday.
Start with the basics
Did you know that just under 35% of burglars gain access to a home by simply walking through the front door? Don’t make it easy for them—always lock your doors and windows, and install deadbolts on doors with outdoor access. Invest in double-glazed glass windows that won’t shatter during an attempted theft.
If you have windows or doors that slide open, put a metal or wooden rod in the track of the sliding window or door to prevent someone from prying it open.
Don’t leave anything that can be used to abet a robbery—like ladders or tools—in your yard.
Ask the post office to hold your mail for you. Avoid placing any orders before you leave, so there will be no valuable packages sitting on your porch alerting burglars to your absence.
Store your jewelry and other valuables and important documents in a safety deposit box until you return home.
Enlist your friends, family and neighbours
Have a family member or a close, trusted friend keep an eye on your property inside and out while you’re away. Ask him or her to pick up any mail or flyer deliveries that would be a tip-off that your home is unoccupied. Have someone shovel your driveway and sidewalk if it’s winter, and invite a neighbour to park their second car in your driveway.
Use technology to your advantage
Security cameras set up outside are a great deterrent for potential thieves. Webcams can also be used as security cameras and even allow you to check up on the state of your home, both inside and out, from almost any location.
If you travel a lot, a home security system is a good investment. Seventy-eight per cent of ex-burglars admitted that a house that has an alarm system dissuaded them from burglarizing it.
Be social media-savvy
Social media now allows people to connect in new ways. You can share your location with friends so they know where you are, or you can “check-In” at certain places, alerting others that you’ve arrived at your destination.
Unfortunately, these updates also alert potential thieves that you are not at home and perhaps won’t be for quite a while. Nearly 80% of ex-burglars credit social media updates with providing them with information about their target’s whereabouts. Before you post that beautiful vacation photo or update your family and friends about your trip, be aware of who can see it and any locations you’re posting to the Internet. If you absolutely must update your friends, send email to a select few, or make sure your social media settings are private.
Protect pipes from freezing
Before you go away, shut off your water completely and then turn on the taps and flush the toilets to drain any excess water. Doing so will prevent your pipes from freezing or flooding and causing damage to your home.
Check in with your insurance company
Before you travel, it’s a good idea to contact your home insurance company to let them know you’ll be away for a while and to discuss the terms of your policy. Though policies vary, your insurance company may have a limit on the length of time you can be absent from your home and still be protected in the event of a break-in or other mishap. Some insurance policies require that the homeowner make arrangements for someone to visit the home on a regular basis to keep the policy in force.
Next time you’re about to fly off to warmer climates, remember to take the appropriate steps to dissuade thieves from targeting your home. If it looks like you haven’t left, no one will be the wiser.