During the holidays, especially, home burglary is a major problem. According to the FBI, December is the peak month for burglaries. And with that in mind, here are a few tips and tricks from a seasoned private investigator (that’s me) to help you protect your home during the holiday season:
1. First of all, this one is obvious yet everyone does it anyway…DON’T NOTIFY PEOPLE ON SOCIAL MEDIA OF YOUR VACATION! (Unless, of course, you have a great house-sitter). The fact is, most home theft is committed by people that know the occupants.
2. Make sure all of your security systems (cameras, alarms, etc) are all working properly. And make sure that someone is monitoring them. There are apps that allow owners to view in real-time that can be utilized. According to a report by the University of North Carolina, about 60% of convicted burglars stated the presence of a security system influenced their decision to target another home.
3. If you do not have someone to housesit, get a neighbor or friend to come by and check on your house periodically.
4. Make sure all your gates and fences are secure and locked. Also, don’t forget to check all your windows and make sure they are locked. This is a common one to forget. An unlocked window or door is the point of entry for almost 30% of robberies.
5. Let your trusted neighbors know the dates you are out of town so they can keep a watch as well.
6. It is a good idea to install lighting that periodically comes on and goes off on a timer.
7. Do not allow newspapers or mail to pile up. That is a telltale sign for burglars. Have someone collect your mail daily.
8. We always recommend thorn shrubbery around the house, especially at windows. And having a dog is truly one of the best deterrents, as well. Here’s the thing: dogs cannot be bought or bribed. Dogs are loyal and defend their home. This means that someone must check on the dog every day. Activity at your home = GOOD!
9. Secure all your property inside; jewelry, cash, etc into a safe or at least in a safe place. The goal is to make it harder for a thief to find your things, if they are able to get into your home. Time is of the essence during a break in for the burglar who needs to get in and out as fast as possible.
10. Make sure trusted people know your travel plans and has your contact information, both cellphone, email, and where you are staying. It is so important to have a way for people to contact you in case anything is amiss at your home. Make things easy for others to contact you or inform you: make sure you store their numbers in your phone as well, and feel free to share a local emergency contact to your neighbors (such as adult children’s phone numbers, other family members that live nearby, etc).