From security systems to little things like having a neighbor pick up the mail, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce your chance of having your home robbed while you are away on vacation.
When two members of the band Southern Avenue returned home from a recent tour, they found their house had been broken into and their chicken was gobbled up.
You risk having your home burglarized whenever you go out of town, especially if it’s going to be for multiple weeks.
“MEMPHIS, where they rob your house and fry your chicken before they leave,” lead singer Tierinii Jackson wrote in a Facebook post in May. Jackson and her bandmates played this past Firefly.
With summer vacation already upon us, police departments and security experts around the state have tips on ways to better protect your property while out of town.
1. Security system
Making sure the windows and doors of your home are locked is something everyone should do, whether you’re going on vacation or a trip to the grocery store.
For people looking to beef up security, they should consider investing in a modern surveillance system, said Matthew Davis, owner of FAV Communications. The company, based in Townsend, performs audio visual and security installations in businesses and homes throughout the state.
“Nowadays a lot of people are shying away from paying a monthly subscription for a home security service, instead [they are] installing a surveillance system where they can remotely view it from anywhere, whether it’s on their phone or computer,” Davis said.
Davis said another incentive for purchasing a newer surveillance system is some of them have a full alarm system built in. The company Nest, his personal favorite, offers a full automation home security system with cameras that can be viewed from a smart device.
“If you’re on vacation and your garage door opens, you’ll get an alert from the system on your phone, and if you have a camera in that room, you can view it from remote,” Davis said.
The Nest system comes with one camera, two motion sensors and an alarm. It supports up to six cameras. Davis said most customers only need four cameras.
The idea is to have the cameras in key places, such as outside your front and back door, in the garage and somewhere inside your home, he said.
Other reputable surveillance companies include Canary System and Wink Hub. Davis said one of the things that distinguishes Nest from most of its competitors is the system doesn’t suffer from glitching.
The FAV owner said his company has been around for five years and initially started out doing AV installations. But beginning in 2017, the attention has shifted to providing more security.
“Sixty percent of our business is installing cameras these days,” Davis said. “You can tell people are interested in securing their homes and businesses.”
2. Social media
Det. Joey Melvin of Georgetown Police Department said a common way that many people inadvertently let others know they’re not home is by advertising their absence on social media.
“If your profile is public and you post: ‘leaving for Bermuda,’ it’s pretty transparent your house might be empty,” Melvin said.
Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman of Dover Police Department said it’s important to set privacy settings on your social platforms and to be more conscious of who you befriend there, especially if you’re going to make obvious posts about being away from home.
“We’d make a recommendation not to post those kinds of things online,” Hoffman said. “But we also understand that you want to share those moments with your family, with your friends and show them the memories you’re making with your loved ones. You just have to be careful about it. At the end of the day, it’s really about what you’re comfortable with [sharing].”
3. Property checks
If you want a little extra peace of mind while you’re away, contact your local police department and request they perform a property check.
“If you were to call the police department and you live in city limits, which is important, you can let them know you’re going to be away for a week, starting on [the designated] day,” Hoffman said.
Property checks aren’t guaranteed, since it depends on how much manpower is available at the time, he said.
An officer will file your information on roll call for other officers to see daily when they come on shift. If there’s enough manpower available, an officer will try to get around to checking on your home, Hoffman said.
4. The old parking trick
Det./Cpl. Timothy Maloney of Milford Police Department said a good way to discourage potential burglars from hitting your home is by parking your vehicle(s) in the garage (if you have one) and having a neighbor park in your driveway occasionally.
5. Light work
One of the most practical ways you can make your home looked live in is by setting your interior and exterior lights timers, Maloney said. Some people put a radio on a timer, too.
6. House sitter/ property maintenance
If you’re going to be away for at least a week, it’d be wise to have a neighbor, loved one or co-worker stop by each day to collect your mail and newspaper and walk around outside your home to see everything is in the condition that you left it in.
“Having eyes on your property each day could not only deter theft, but also help identify any suspicious behavior,” said Melvin.
It can help to have someone remove your trashcans from the driveway after they’ve been emptied and to have a person mow your lawn if you think the grass is going to grow too high, he said.