The school holidays have started again, and you’ve taken some time off and planned a vacation to spend some time as a family. Vacations are a time to unwind – a chance to cast your woes aside and spend some quality time with your loved ones. The last thing you want is to come home only to find that it has been robbed. To ensure that this doesn’t happen, follow this checklist to secure your home and possessions over the holidays.
Secure Your Car
If you’re leaving your car behind, park it within your property – either in a garage or carport. If it’s parked on the street, remove all valuables from the inside and park it somewhere well-lit. Alternatively, you can lend your car to someone trustworthy until you return. Store your keys someplace secure as well, somewhere that is not in plain sight. This means not on a key hook or in a bowl. Alternatively, take your car keys with you and make sure you don’t lose them.
If you plan on using long-term parking, remove all valuables from the inside. Especially your GPS navigation system as this can provide thieves a map to your unoccupied home. If you’re worried about unauthorised use of your car, consider installing a GPS tracking device. That way you can monitor the position of your vehicle remotely and receive alerts if your car has left your property.
Lock Your Doors and Windows
This is a no-brainer. However, it’s a simple mistake that can cost you an exponential amount and potentially void your insurance. Before you leave, check and double check to make sure all doors and windows are shut and locked. If you have a fence, lock the gate.
Securing your house keys is paramount to preventing burglary. So, remove the spare key from under the doormat (or wherever you have hidden it) and place it somewhere secure. If you are missing your keys or suspect your home has been robbed, despite locking all windows and doors, call a locksmith to replace your locks. Keep an eye out for any suspicious looking individuals lurking around your property.
Unplug your Electronics
Turn off your broadband modem and disconnect the power to your electrical appliances such as the television, personal computer, coffee machine and the garage door so that thieves cannot use a universal remote to open it. This will reduce your power bill and reduce the chances of getting hacked (cyber crime is no laughing matter).
Not so much a security measure, but here’s a trick to see if there was a blackout while you were away. Take a cup of water, freeze it and then place a coin on the surface (a 1-dollar or a 20-cent piece will suffice). Leave the cup in the freezer for the duration of your trip. If there was a blackout, the coin would have sunk below the surface and be embedded in the ice. If that happens, dispose of any leftover food you had in the fridge.
Make Your Home Look Occupied
Let someone borrow your driveway or garage to park their car whilst you’re away.
Light is a thief deterrent, so set your lights on a timer. For a simple solution, you can purchase inexpensive socket timers from your local hardware or electronics store. Use these on all plug-in lamps around your home. Don’t shut every blind and curtain. But rather make it look natural whilst still covering all valuable electronics and furniture.
Talk to Your Neighbours
Enlist the help of your neighbours and ask them to empty your mailbox and hold onto your mail. A full mailbox is an indication that your house is unoccupied. Also, ask them politely if they can take your garbage bins out.
Instruct them to call the police if they spot anything suspicious around your house. Provide them with your contact details and spare key, so that they can keep you updated on the condition of your house.
Find a Trustworthy House-Sitter
If thief-proofing your house is too much of a hassle, you could consider entrusting the care of your home to a friend or family member for an easy solution to securing your possessions. Having your home occupied by someone is a thief deterrent and they can keep you posted on the condition of your home. However, we should emphasise the word “trustworthy”. Don’t select someone who will abuse their access to your home. Incentivise them to keep their word with reimbursement such as gift-cards, cash, or souvenirs from your holiday. If you have pets, having a house-sitter can alleviate concerns about boarding your furry companions.
Go Easy on Social Media
It’s tempting to post on social media about your latest adventure. But, this is also an indication that you left your house unoccupied. Wait until you come home to upload your holiday pictures. If you cannot wait to post to post about your holiday, set your pictures to post to “friends only” and make sure you remove any geotags.
We at Black Knight Wish Everyone a Safe and Happy vacation. Bon voyage!!!