1. Make sure all windows and doors are locked. Construct a checklist to make sure each door and window is checked twice before leaving. Every shutter, blind and drape should be drawn shut.
2. Make the home look occupied. There are several ways to go about this task. A cute note letting neighbors know the family is on vacation may seem like a good idea, but it is the same as putting an invitation on the door for burglars. Set timer switches for lamps to turn on and off randomly. If there is a DVR, set it to record shows randomly and turn the television on during the process.
3. Have a neighbor keep watch. Give a trusted neighbor a spare key. Have that individual pick up the mail every day and check on the home. If it is not possible to set timer switches for lamps, have the neighbor turn lights on and off randomly.
4. Make sure the garage is closed and locked. Leaving the door open is the same as putting a bright flashing sign in the front yard notifying burglars that the home is vacant. Keep the door locked. If there are windows, cover them up to keep burglars from seeing inside.
5. Never leave spare keys in the yard. That cute little rock disguised as a key holder may seem clever, but burglars are very familiar with every form of key enclosure. If a key must be left behind, make sure it is in the hands of a trusted neighbor.
6. Arrange for lawn care. Do not tell lawn care professionals that the home will be vacant. Pay them in advance, but instruct them to clean up well. Keeping the yard groomed and leaving some toys or accessories scattered around on the porch makes the home look occupied.
7. Discontinue regular delivery services. If newspapers, milk or other regular deliveries are arranged, put holds on them. Never leave notes on doors for delivery personnel.
8. Do not make vacation plans public knowledge. Never post plans to travel on social media sites. Do not tell any unfamiliar people in the neighborhood about the trip, and make sure local newspapers do not publicize any plans. Only trusted neighbors, close friends or family members should know about travel plans.
9. Have the mail held. If a trusted neighbor cannot pick up the mail every day, have it held. This can be arranged online or by visiting a local post office.
10. Invest in a home security system. This solution may not be compatible with every person's budget. However, it is a good investment for those who can afford it. Many companies offer free installation as a promotional special. New technology allows homeowners to monitor activities from the Internet or their smart phones. Another option is to hire a house sitter. If this is the chosen option, make sure the individual knows self-defense techniques and has adequate means to practice them.
Complete your safety checklist with homeowner's insurance. Call a HALO Insurance agent to discuss your options, 314-351-HALO (4256).