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When the Homeowner's Away, the Burglars Will Play

Summertime to a burglar means a potential playground of empty homes. Here are a few suggestions to protect your property.

Burglaries can happen at any time of year. You may arrive home one day and see an open door with the locks wrenched from the frame. You peer inside and realize instantly that you have been hit. Once this happens, a new level of worry becomes part of your day-to-day life.

Specialists will often say that alarm systems only keep out the inexperienced thieves. A good burglar - one worth his or her salt - will not be deterred. In addition to leaving the house empty each day, vacation time means an extended time away. That takes worries to a new level.

There are many steps to take that will keep your home maximally secure. Keep in mind, however, there are no guarantees nor are there any foolproof systems.

Often it's the most simple signs of life that will keep a thief at bay. Timers are always recommended, although if someone is "casing the joint," they will figure out very quickly that lights go on and off with precision. If possible, stagger timers to imitate an evening in the living room with the natural progression to a bedroom and a kitchen light first thing in the morning. Sound is another advantage, whether on timers or a radio blaring. Choose a news station or talk radio; a burglar won't linger to recognize the voice of a talk show host.

A parked car in the driveway may help, although some stricter neighborhood ordinances prohibit this. A word of caution, here, too. Cars can also be broken into.

It is well worth the trouble to stop deliveries of mail and newspapers. That won't help with circulars attached to front doorknobs (which should be outlawed anyway from a security standpoint). It's always wise to have a close friend or family member enlisted to make a regular (daily, if possible) check of your home, even if it's a perimeter check. They should collect those fliers and be authorized to approve replacement windows and doors if necessary.

Let's face it - some of us just don't know our neighbors that well or do not even have friends or family who can be called upon. It's not unusual. Many city police departments take requests for vacation checks. They may use volunteers and off-duty officers. It has been proven in some areas that if a thief knows a uniformed officer is checking the premises, he or she will go in search of a more vulnerable location.

However, the best deterrent is to rely upon neighbors, especially any who are home during the day. Whoever you choose, always leave full information on how you can be reached at any time.

Before you go -

At the very least, hide valuables in odd spots. Inside a cereal box at the back of the pantry, for instance. The best case scenario is a lockbox at an off-site location.

Note serial numbers on all valuable equipment and do keep the list in a safe place. Take photos as well.

Check and double-check all window and door locks. Don't forget the basement and the upstairs.

Load luggage into the car while it is still parked inside the garage - and with the door down.

Unplug the garage door. Lightning strikes can cause them to open. Be sure to lock the door from the house to the garage as well.




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