Consumer GuidesElectrical, Telephone & Data

While You’re Away

Before you leave on vacation, follow these tips and feel more secure about your home being vacant.

1. Don’t advertise that you are gone:

Discontinue newspaper delivery or have a neighbor bring in the paper each day. A neighbor can bring in the mail and any other deliveries at the same time.

Arrange for someone to keep the lawn trim.

Leave a car parked in the driveway.

Leave lights and a radio on timers.

Don’t record a message on your answering machine or voice mail that says you are gone. If you use an answering machine, have someone remove messages periodically to prevent overloading its message capacity. An overloaded answering machine won’t take messages properly and can tip-off thieves that you are away.

2. Improve security:

Make sure all windows and doors are locked, including those above the ground floor. Use broom handles to wedge sliding glass doors shut.

If you have an alarm, let the monitoring service know you are going. Make sure alternate contacts are going to be in town.

Tell neighbors you are leaving so they can watch your home.

Install exterior lights that automatically come on when it gets dark and go off when it’s light.

3. Just in case:

Hide small valuable items like jewelry. Don’t place items in the freezer, as it is an overused hiding place. A banged-up box high up in a closet or in a remote corner of the basement should suffice.

Engrave your driver’s license number into a metal surface of large valuables like video equipment, computers, and bicycles (local police departments will loan you an engraver). While this will rarely prevent theft, it will increase the odds that the thief is caught and that your possessions are returned. In most jurisdictions, the police will loan you an engraving tool.

Photograph valuables as record for insurance purposes. Even better, take a video inventory of each room, zooming in on brand names, model numbers, and serial numbers.

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