Holiday home safety tips: When you leave your home 'Home Alone'

For many homeowners, holidays is crime season. When property crimes occur from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, it's often a crime of opportunity. It's that point of year when most of us are busy, distracted, or traveling abroad.

How safe is your home – really?

The great news: The FBI's latest crime statistics make sure property crimes decreased by 2.6 % from 2020 to 2020. And yet, annual losses are still estimated at $14.3 billion.

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Things are searching up for us overall, but it is still hard to hide from the cold, hard facts of home security. “On average, a burglary occurs every 20 seconds in the United States,” Sage Singleton, home safety expert from SafeWise, qualifies. “As such, it’s necessary to safeguard your house – especially during peak getaways.”

The better news: You can enjoy the hustle and bustle of the holidays without looking over your shoulder, whenever you take a few precautions first.

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14 smart ways to protect your home round the holidays

Short of setting booby-traps for burglars, there's plenty that you can do to maintain your home as well as your belongings safe:

1. Unpack your vehicle during the night.

Before you even leave on holiday, your car could be vulnerable to a break-in. Thieves realize that we do lots of shopping during the holidays, Jonas Sickler of ConsumerSafety.org tells us. “So, never leave anything in a car overnight. Even when gifts are in a corner, they might not be safe,” he states.

2. Remember to lock your doors.

It's not so difficult, but all of us forget to get it done from time to time. Robert Siciliano, identity theft expert and CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, informs us he recommends all homeowners take this basic precaution throughout the holidays (even when you're in your own home, and it is still light outside). This also means keeping all windows locked, including those on the 2nd floor.

3. Ask a neighbor to watch your house.

Don't forget to pay for it well the favor in return. Based on Singleton, it’s important to communicate frequently with neighbors throughout the holidays. “Whether you are going out of town or are simply away at work, let a dependable neighbor know your plans. This way, they can report anything suspicious either to you or the cops,” she says.

4. Put away the spare key.

Or, give it to your neighbor for safe-keeping. As long as you don't hide it in plain sight. “Let's be honest: Everybody knows your spare secret is underneath the mat – or perhaps in that fake rock – which is why it's the simplest way for a trespasser to get involved with your home while your folks are away on vacation,” Frank Guido, CMO at MONI Smart Security, says. “If you absolutely must have a spare key in a concealed spot, there are several doorknob-hanging safes that you can lock the important thing in, preventing anyone without the code from accessing.”

5. Keep quiet regarding your travels on social media.

Especially in case your profiles are public. “While we all want to publish about our upcoming holiday vacation or weekend plans, it’s vital that you post with caution,” Singleton says. “Social media gives everyone, including strangers, a clear view into your world, leaving you vulnerable and exposed. Wait until following a vacation to post pictures and don’t 'check in' in a hotel or airport. This can keep you and your home safe while you are away.”

6. Hold your mail.

This classic anti-crime tip works for a reason – a pile of mail within the mailbox indicates you aren't at home. And yes, including the numerous, many Amazon Prime boxes mounting up at your doorstep. Sickler says, “Have packages sent to a piece address so that they aren’t sitting on a porch for someone to seize. Mail theft rises during the holidays because people are hoping to find cards full of cash. A good way to deter thieves is to buy a locking mailbox.”

7. Employ a handyman.

Just like a fully-loaded mailbox that hasn't been checked, your absence is going to be obvious when snow starts to develop around your home. Sickler recommends hiring or asking someone to shovel the sidewalk, brush off your car, and walk down and up the steps if you're likely to be gone throughout the snowy months. This makes your house look lived-in.

8. Secure your valuables and sensitive documents.

Preferably, secure these questions fire-proof safe. To add some extra protection, Siciliano suggests keeping curtains and blinds closed. Simple as it may be, closing the curtains can prevent passersby from checking out your valuables using your windows.

9. Set your lights on timers.

Or, control them remotely utilizing an app. Home automation makes it extremely simple to secure your house, Singleton explains. “You may use your smartphone to check in on your home while away,” she says.

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10. Strengthen your security system.

Beyond smartphone-automated lights, Singleton suggests installing indoor and outdoor cameras and a home security system to maintain your home safe. “It also makes it easier to trap a burglar in the act if someone happens to enter your home or steal packages off your front door,” she says. “Homes without security are 300 percent more prone to be targeted by burglars.”

11. Put up some signage.

“Beware of dog” may scare some people off, but a house security company's sign posted right in front yard works better still. “Criminals look for easy targets,” Sickler says. “If your house seems protected, they will proceed to another home. The easiest thing you can do is to place a home security sign in the yard, or in a window.” It may not be the most attractive holiday decoration, but it will bring reassurance to the season.

12. Bunch the vehicle in the spare room.

Quite unlike the movie Home Alone, you won't want to make a big spectacle of packing up your car to head to the airport prior to the holidays. Guido recommends packing suitcases into the trunk in the security of the garage. “Transporting suitcases back and forth from the house towards the car can tip off anyone watching that you're leaving town,” he states.

13. Turn on a bit of music.

OK, OK, this one does come straight from the pages of Kevin McAllister's playbook. Combined with the automated lights, Guido suggests activating music when you are likely to be on vacation. “Your home is much safer from theft if potential intruders believe someone is home. An excellent deterrent to an intruder is noise coming from the house.” Fortunately, he states, “Many smart-home providers enable timing systems that keep the televisions and radios on a timed schedule to take and off during the day.”

14. Cover your entry ways.

Siciliano says that when most homeowners Google “door kicked in,” along with their city and state, they're shocked in what they see. Even with a stringent home security system, will still be possible for a thief to make forcible entry through a window or door. Because of this, Siciliano recommends taking extra precaution by guarding your entry ways having a high-level reinforcement device, such as the Door Devil. This way, you are able to leave home for Christmas vacation feeling extra-safe.

We care a great deal about keeping your home secure, and that we care just as much about your mortgage. First-time homebuyer? We are able to assist you in finding out how much you prequalify for in a few minutes. Homeowner? We'll let you know if you can save money on your monthly obligations having a home loan refinance. Whatever your mortgage needs might be, count on the truth that we've got your back.