Going on Vacation? Simple Tips for Keeping Your Home Safe

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This is a gif of a family on vacation with a large lock on their home.

You can finally take that summer trip you’ve dreamed about these last couple of years. And, of course, you want to relax and not worry about a home break-in while you’re away. Because many burglaries are unsophisticated, with thieves simply breaking a window or walking through an unlocked door, there are simple, inexpensive ways to help secure your home—and your peace of mind—while you’re on vacation. Here are some.

Use a professional monitoring service, like SimpliSafe, which employs highly trained agents to watch over your home 24/7. With the U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Overall Home Security of 2022,” you can customize the system to your entire property, inside and out. It helps protect you from break-ins and also fires, floods, frozen pipes and carbon monoxide poisoning.

You don’t need a landline for SimpliSafe to work; the equipment functions with a cellular connection. SimpliSafe sends alerts and live video to your smartphone, which you can also use to arm and disarm your system.

We know you already know rule No. 1, but here’s a reminder anyway: Keep your exterior doors locked. Here are other ideas to safeguard your doors:

  • It’s a good idea to get high-tech with your front door, whether that’s with a video doorbell or smart lights that alert you to motion. Before your trip, make sure these devices are running properly and the batteries are freshly charged.
  • Smart locks are another good upgrade to keep your house safe while you’re away. You can access these high-tech locks remotely, plus they automatically lock your door if you forget in your rush to the airport.
  • Before your trip, examine your exterior doors, including any that lead to your garage, to ensure the frames are strong and the hinges are protected. You can even add a door brace, which can sustain several hundred pounds of blunt force, thwarting a thief’s attempt to kick your door down.
  • If your door has a mail slot, make sure a thief can’t reach through it to unlock your door.
  • Use extra-long screws to reinforce the strike plate—the metal piece that surrounds the deadbolt hole in your doorjamb.

The first step, again, is to make sure your windows are closed and locked when you leave home.

  • Consider a simple window sensor alarm that will alert you if the window is opened or broken.
  • Further secure windows by installing removable eyebolts (bolts with loops for heads) or window pins. These prevent windows from being opened from the outside.
  • Strengthen window glass. You can use security film or polycarbonate shields, which should be installed by a professional. Security screens (like insect screens but made of stainless steel mesh) and shatterproof glass are also options.

Your garage contains valuable items, and it also provides a way into your home.

  • Disconnect the remote control to your garage before you leave, so thieves can’t hack the electronic signal.
  • Check into upgrading to a smart garage door opener that lets you open and close the door from your phone and will alert you when the door is opened.

Bonus tips for looking like you’re home

Burglars look for empty houses, so make sure your home looks lived-in even when you’re living it up elsewhere.

  • Don’t post your vacation trips on social media until you’re back home.
  • Keep a car parked in your driveway—ask a trusted neighbor to lodge their car there if you’re taking yours with you.
  • Stop your mail, newspaper and other regular deliveries, like meal kits, pet food or medicine.
  • Don’t cancel your lawn service. Overgrown yards can be a sign that you’re not around.
  • If you don’t normally close your drapes, don’t close them when you’re gone. You can even invest in smart blinds that open and close from your phone at your command.
  • A smart plug is an inexpensive way to turn your house lights on and off, making it look as though someone’s inside.

Create a burglar decoy

If, after all these precautions, there’s still a break-in, it’s a given that the thief won’t want to linger. Create a decoy: a box that a thief can easily find, filled with a little cash, costume jewelry and a few papers. Experts say that in a rush, the burglar will check entryway drawers, the sock drawer in the master bedroom or boxes on top of dressers. If they find a box with cash in it, they’ll swoop it up and go. So give them that decoy box with things you can stand to lose.

Protect Your Home for Less

AAA Members can protect their homes for less with SimpliSafe. Members get a free security camera, two months of free monitoring and 15 AAA Dollars.

Does your insurance cover all your valuables should a break-in occur? Talk with an agent and discover the advantages of home insurance through AAA.

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