Whether you are going away for the weekend, or travelling for several months, it’s never easy to lock up your home and leave your property behind, and it’s common to worry about your house while you are away. With the average value of home contents estimated at around £45,000, there are many things that need to be protected, and of course plenty of items that have sentimental value. That’s why it’s essential to keep your home safe, and here are a few tips to give you peace of mind when you go away.
Minimise the people that you tell
With so many people bragging about their holidays on social media, it’s easy for thieves to know when potential targets have left their homes vacant. Make sure your security settings are high, and that you don’t put your full address or identifying details on your public pages. It’s also a good idea not to mention that you’re away on your answer phone, or leave instructions for the postman that might hint that the home is empty.
Assess your building’s security
It’s important to take a long look at your home and to think about potential ways that thieves or vandals might gain access. It can be useful to have a security system installed, and when you have a company come out to look at it, they can also give an objective opinion of how safe things are.
Potential insecure areas can include:
- Unlocked ground floor windows
- First floor windows with easy access – i.e. windows over the porch or garage
- Dog flaps
- Solid fencing that can be easily climbed
- Side or back entrances with simpler locks
One thing to ask yourself is: ‘If I lost my keys, how would I get in?’ By figuring this you can easily patch up any holes in your security plan.
Make friends with your neighbours
It’s worth talking to your neighbours and building up a bond, as this will ensure you have someone to keep an eye on things when you go away. Many neighbours will be happy to clear the mail from your hallway and clear away those free newspapers which can be a big giveaway to opportunistic thieves.
If your street has any organisations such as community groups, then this can help to reduce crime by making people more aware of suspicious activity around other’s homes. You could consider joining a Neighbourhood Watch scheme, or perhaps holding your own meeting at home to get people involved. In return for watching out for your neighbour’s homes, you can leave your property with a greater peace of mind.
Keep your property well-lit
Potential burglars need the cover of darkness to be able to operate, and simple measures such as automatic security lights can make them think twice. If you are away on a regular basis, then you can also have gadgets installed such as indoor lights that go on and off randomly, or even ones you control via a smartphone, and this will give the impression that somebody is in.
Stop your mail
If you get newspaper or magazine subscriptions; make sure they are put on hold before you go away. Those travelling for longer can also arrange to have their mail re-directed, perhaps sent to a relative’s home, and this also means you don’t miss anything important while you are gone.
Don’t hide a spare key
It’s surprising the number of people who have fake rocks or other elaborate ways of hiding their spare key. However, this simply does not work, as experienced thieves will know which places to look. It can even affect an insurance claim if you’re shown to have been careless, so leave the spare with a trusted neighbour or nearby relative instead.
When you are planning a trip there’s always plenty to do, but it’s essential to take some time to think about home security. Just a few simple measures can make all the difference, and ensure that you come back to your normal, comfortable surroundings rather than a crime scene. If you’re not sure, then it’s worth investing in the skills of a qualified security expert, and they can assess your home and help you make it more secure.
About the author:
Faith Knight is a writer from Security and Communication Warehouse, leading South African importers and distributors of CCTV, access control and electronic security equipment.