Preventing home thefts while you’re traveling for the holidays

couple leaving home for vacation

The holiday season is a time for visiting family and friends whether they’re across the street or across the ocean. While that makes for a festive holiday season for you, it also makes for a profitable season for thieves. Criminals know that while many people are traveling for the holidays, homes all across the country will be left vacant, making them easy pickings for valuable items like TVs, jewelry, laptops, and even your beautifully wrapped Christmas presents.

Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to prevent home theft during the holidays. Follow these steps, and you can feel more confident that, when you get home from traveling, your home will be just as you left.

  1. Trick thieves into thinking someone is home 

Remember that scene in Home Alone where Kevin rigs up his house with lights, dancing cardboard cutouts, music and more to make it look like there’s a party going on, scaring off the Wet Bandits? While you don’t have to go to those lengths (even though it would be kinda fun), making it seem like someone is at your home can encourage would-be burglars to try another house instead.

Put timers on your lights, TV and radio so things turn off and on during the day, just like they would if someone was home. Pause home mail delivery and newspaper delivery while you’re gone. And don’t close all the blinds and curtains – only the ones that show obvious valuables or would give away that you’re not really home.

  1. Take your spare key

Think you’re really crafty with your spare-key hiding spot? No matter how genius your hiding place is, your spare key can still be found – particularly if you live in eyesight of other homes or apartments, whose residents may have seen you stash it in its hiding place. While taking your spare key won’t keep determined criminals out of your home, it can deter neighborhood punks or less-motivated criminals for walking into an easy target.

  1. Don’t share your trip on social media until you get home 

Surely the people on your social media friends’ lists are all upstanding human beings, right? Well, probably, but that doesn’t mean that your personal declarations of “I’ll be gone for two weeks!” won’t be seen by someone nefarious. Wait to share pictures and talk about locations until you get home, just in case.

  1. Install an alarm system 

Not only will your alarm system notify the police if there’s a break-in and (hopefully) scare burglars off with loud sirens, but a home alarm system might help you save money on your homeowners insurance, too.

  1. Get neighborly 

If you’re friendly with your neighbors, ask them to keep an eye on your home while you’re gone. They can go over and water your plants, check your mail, and generally have a presence at your home. A thief casing your house will be less inclined to break in if they know there’s a chance they’ll be interrupted by your neighbor.