In the age of digital nomads and remote work, you may be able to take longer trips than you used to. Maybe you’ve always wanted to spend the summer at the beach, but you’re worried about the property you’d leave behind. The next time you plan to leave town for an extended period of time, here’s what you can do to prevent burglars from taking advantage of your absence.
The best ways to secure your doors and windows
Start by getting a home security system (here are some of the best, according to Mashable) to monitor or record people coming and going. Some home security systems can automatically call the authorities if there’s an issue or can detect breaking glass, which can give you peace of mind if you might be away from your phone.
You can also reinforce the entryways with a kit that makes it harder for someone to kick or pry open a door. You can also install window reinforcements made by this company or put a dowel in each of your windows to make it harder to force open. Also look into putting longer screws on your doors so they’re harder to remove. The idea behind making entryways more reinforced is to “make sure that if someone tries to get into your home, they would have to make so much noise and effort to breach it that it wouldn’t make sense, and they’d choose another target,” says Rob Jackson, private security expert at Reveille Advisors.
How to make it look like you’re actually home
If you want to prevent thieves from knowing you’re gone, besides setting light timers so it appears you’re coming and going, also turn on motion detector lights outside to deter people from sneaking in under cover of nightfall. Jackson says to “mount it higher than a person can easily jump or swing something at to break it.” You can also install automated curtains to open and close throughout the day. And if it’s going to snow, ask someone to park in your driveway once in a while to make it look like someone was recently home.
Another way to make it appear that you are home and protected is to give the illusion there is a dog at home. “Dogs are such a good deterrent that the idea of one barking can make a prowler bolt,” Jackson says. His advice is to leave a dog leash or dog bowl at the door to make it look like dogs are on-site, but “just make sure they’re used and look loved, versus a brand-new leash and metal bowl. Extra credit for a sign on a fence or gate that reads ‘Do not let the dog out’ or ‘Rottweiler Mum.’”
Another tip from Jackson is to leave a pair (or two) of used (even muddy) work boots or men’s shoes at the door. “The idea is to suggest to anyone who visits the property that someone, at least recently, entered the home and removed their shoes before doing so,” he says. “We always recommend this tip to women who live alone too, as it can imply there may be a male inside.”
Secure your garage, too
Your garage is a vulnerable area, easy for burglars to penetrate. “If you have glass windows on your garage door, you can spray cheap ‘frost’ on the inside of them to create an opaque look versus see-through clarity,” Jackson says. Or hang a blanket over glass windows.
You should also make sure it’s not easy to open the garage from the outside. “Remove the handle on your manual release cord,” Jackson says. “There are usually imperfections or gaps around a garage door that can allow very, very easily for a wire hanger to breach the door and loop around said handle,” and to “put a rod, dowel, or lock into your garage door so it can’t be raised manually from the outside.”
Don’t post on social media about your trip until you get home, especially if you have a public or easily searchable account. Put away valuables, keys, or electronics in a place that can’t be seen from exterior windows. And f you have particularly valuable items like jewellery, perhaps put these in a safe.
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