It’s the season of gifts, food, decorations, a lot of festivities, and of course- burglaries. Wait, what? Unfortunately, it’s the less cheerful reality of the holiday season. According to the FBI, 18 percent of home burglaries happen in December, and police only solve 13 percent of them. And if you’re going away on a holiday vacation, the last thing you’d want is to find that your place has been ransacked, with your valuable items missing.
Criminals are already on the prowl, so it won’t hurt to be extra cautious. We’ve compiled a list of simple but savvy ways to safeguard your property against theft and break-ins during the holidays.
While you’re out having the time of your life somewhere, burglars can have the time of their life looting your place. So if you’re planning to travel this holiday season, keep your plans off your social media networks. Burglars can be technologically savvy nowadays, and divulging too much information online about your trip compromises your home security and makes you an easy target for them. They can quickly identify you or your family and search for your home address, even if you think you have the highest level of security on your Facebook or Instagram accounts.
No matter how excited you are, wait until you are home before posting about your vacation so you won’t broadcast your absence. If you want to give updates to your family or close friends, give them a call. Also, adjust your privacy settings and confirm your location services are in manual mode so you won’t broadcast your location.
It’s a sight many of us are probably looking forward to this time of year—a wonderful Christmas tree all lit up, with lots of pretty wrapped gifts underneath. But putting these festive decorations next to a window or other areas that are highly visible to the street is also a sight good enough for burglars to window-shop. It’s a visual invitation for them to size up your home and break in, especially once you’re away.
Minimize temptation by making sure you set up the tree and gifts away from windows or other places with a view. If the front room is your best choice, use thick curtains or blinds to conceal your home’s interior and block the view from the outside. You may also consider hiding gifts temporarily, only taking them out in time for the opening of presents.
‘Tis the season of gift giving and holiday shopping. And we know how joyful it is to get that spectacular flatscreen TV you’ve been saving for months, the latest laptop model, or any other big-ticket items that come in branded packaging and boxes. However, make sure you pay attention to how you dispose of your trash. Never leave empty boxes on the curb, unless you want to unintentionally advertise to everyone who drives down your block (including opportunistic burglars) that you’ve got a new TV. If you’re not mindful, burglars don’t need to see the inside of your home to know what valuables you have and what they can get their hands on.
So wait until garbage day until you can discard boxes of expensive items. Or better yet, see if you can break down the boxes into smaller pieces and conceal them in an opaque trash bag. Burglars are always on the lookout for such garbage items, so don’t send them an invitation to go in.
If you’re expecting packages this holiday season but won’t be home to receive them, don’t make the mistake of sticking a note on your front door telling the delivery company to just leave the packages on your porch. Doing so only gives burglars the assurance that you’re gone. A report revealed that almost 1 in 7 Americans have fallen victim to package theft or what they call “porch pirates.” A smart move would be to contact the shipping company directly and give them special instructions about where to leave packages. If you’ve done all your holiday shopping and will be receiving lots of deliveries, you may also want to invest in a secure parcel drop box to keep on your porch.
With family and friends coming and going this holiday season, it’s tempting to have a spare key hidden in an inconspicuous place around your home to make it easier for them to let themselves in. Did we mention under the potted plants or inside a fake outdoor socket? Well, that is a huge no-no! Experienced home invaders know all the best key-hiding spots, and you’re giving them an easy way to get in once they get their hands on your key. So stop hiding your spare keys around the house, or better yet, get rid of them altogether.
Are you going out of town for the holidays? Make your home look like someone is there, even if it’s empty. Take advantage of smart home technology to control lights, TVs, and more from anywhere. Having lights on a timer is also preferable because you can turn them on automatically at specific times. Or better yet, invest in a monitored home security system, which can work perfectly with motion sensor lights. Maintaining a presence even when you’re gone will help reduce the chances of your home being the next target.
Even with all the aforementioned precautions in place, a lack of visible activity in the home, especially for a long time, is likely to raise a burglar’s suspicions sooner or later. This is why it’s best to make arrangements with a trusted friend or neighbor and have them drop by to check in on your home. You can ask them to keep an eye on your house and report any suspicious activity while you’re gone. Depending on what applies to you, you can also pay someone to shovel your walkways if it snows, collect your mail and packages, take out the trash, and more.