Uneasy leaving your home for the holidays? You probably should be. Nearly 400,000 burglaries occur in November and December every year, according to the FBI.
Alarm systems provide some peace of mind, but you want to prevent a break-in, not just have the cops respond to one. To do that you’ll have to do a little more than setting timers on your lights—even the hapless burglars from “Home Alone” knew that trick.
- Black bag the trash. Did your honey treat you to a new Tiffany necklace? Leave that bright aqua box visible—even in a bag on your curb—and you’re letting thieves know goodies await inside. The National Association of Home Builders recommends you turn all packaging inside out, and tie them up in a black garbage bag.
- Do yard work before you leave. Trim any bushes or hedges that could provide cover for a burglar, a common way criminals camouflage a break in, experts say.
- Lock up everything. It sounds obvious, but lock all windows and doors—including from thehouse to the garage (commonly overlooked). Use a safe, get locks for cabinets, and put valuables in out-of-the-way places. And make sure your locks are solid—Consumer Reports found some deadbolts lacking.
- Look alive. Nothing says “occupied” better than a living, breathing, human being. A house sitter can bring in the paper, pick up the mail, and keep the sidewalk clear if it snows.
If a sitter isn’t an option, find a neighbor with a different travel schedule, and make a deal to watch each other’s homes.
- Keep mum. Don’t sabotage all these precautions by sharing your travel plans with the Facebook-using world (“Here’s Tyler with Minnie Mouse!”), and tell your tweeting teens to refrain as well.
Out of the Box