Remember Home Alone? It was only the biggest movie of 1990. It may be a beloved comedic classic these days, but it also embodies the fear we all have: getting robbed while on vacation.
You’re getting ready to head out on that dream vacation you’ve been planning for months or even years. Your reservations are booked, the itinerary is set, and it’s going to be the best thing ever. Only one thing stands in your way: how do you keep your home from being an easy target while you’re gone?
The strategy is very straightforward: make everybody think that somebody is home. The more robbers think that there might be someone around to call the cops on them, the less likely they are to try breaking in.
Before we dive into all the tactics you can use to keep up this illusion, keep in mind that some things apply better for long vacations than others. If you’re just heading out for the weekend, you probably don’t need to do half the things on this list. But if you’re going to be gone for a couple weeks or more, definitely make arrangements for most or all of these things beforehand to keep your home safe.
Ask a friend to check in on your house to make sure everything is locked up. Have them stop in every day to grab the mail, feed any pets you have, and make sure everything is where you left it. If they really like you, you might even get away with paying them in cookies.
Don’t broadcast the fact that you’re not home. Social media the biggest culprit here. We’ve already discussed at length about how to minimize your social media footprint while you’re gone, but here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: shut down location tagging, change your privacy settings to only allow friends to see your posts, and try not to post about how great of a time you’re having on your vacation until after you’re home (it’s tough to resist, we know).
This isn’t a security thing, but if you’re going to be gone a while, consider unplugging your TV, computer, and other appliances to save on power. This also has the side benefit of reducing the chance of an electrical fire starting from a power surge.
Leave a car in the driveway. If this is an option, it’s a good idea to leave one of your cars where it’s visible from the street. This helps create the illusion that someone is home.
Advertise your security. If you’ve got a sign from them you can put in your yard, that can be an effective deterrent.
If it’s the middle of summer, turn the thermostat up to avoid the air conditioning from kicking in. If it’s the dead of winter, turn it down to keep the furnace from running while you’re gone. Just make sure you keep it set high enough to keep the pipes warm so they don’t freeze over.
Depending on how fancy the system is, you could control the timing of the lights in your house from your phone. Just make sure to vary the schedule throughout the day and night so that it appears more natural.
Now, with all this said, there is one very simple thing you can do to make the illusion of people being home real: hire a housesitter. Then it’s no longer a case of creating an illusion of someone being home, since there actually is someone home. This only works, though, if you know somebody well enough in the area to trust with staying at your house for that long.
These are our suggestions and tips on how to keep your home safe while you’re away. Do you have any ideas you think should be added?