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- Don't broadcast your location
- Leave lights on
- Dogs and alarm systems
- Keep your home clean
- Leave a car
- Get help
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There are a few things you can do to make it look like you're home while you're away, such as leaving lights on and parking a car at the front of your house or in your driveway.
Anytime you leave your house overnight, it’s important to make it look like you’re still there. Whether you’re out of town for a night or two or on vacation for a few weeks, you always want your home to look like you’re in it.
The reason for this is simple: homes with occupants in them are more unlikely to be burglarized. A home that is deserted, however, is a prime target for thieves.
The rate of theft on deserted homes is dramatically higher than it is on occupied ones. So, to keep your home and possessions safe when you’re away, you need to make sure that it looks like you’re home. Thankfully, this is fairly easy to achieve.
With a few simple steps from your handy insurance broker Jerry, you can make your home always look like it’s occupied.
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1. Don't publicly broadcast when you'll be away
It's tempting to post on social media when you're on a fabulous vacation. After all, isn't the whole point of drinking a frozen cocktail out of a coconut that you can take a picture to post on instagram?
But be careful of what you share and when you share it. Thieves have been known to look through people's social media posts to figure out who is away from home. And once they have your name, they may be able to find your location as well.
One thing you can do to avoid danger is to skip posting pictures of your vacation until you're back and safely at home. But if you really want to post that beach selfie, keep an eye on whether or not your account is public, and think about who might be able to find it.
2. Leave on the lights, and some audio or video too
If there's one valuable lesson you can take-away from Home Alone, it's this—nothing makes a home look occupied (and scare away bad guys) like some light and sound.
To give the illusion that you’re home, leave a light or two on in the living room, or the kitchen. Better yet, leave the radio on, or even the TV.
If you’re worried about wasting electricity while you’re gone, you can limit the amount that the light or TV is on. Timers for lights are inexpensive and easy to set up. By using a timer, you can have the light turn on in the evening and turn off in the morning.
Some smart TVs have a feature where you can program them to turn on during a specific time period. Other programs, such as YouTube TV, allow you to control your TV from your smart phone—even if you’re nowhere nearby.
By leaving sound or light on while you’re gone, most potential burglars will assume that someone is home and not look twice at your house.
3. Make it look like you have a dog and an alarm system
Thieves are likely to stay away from places that look like they have a dog. And they're unlikely to break into a house that seems to have a robust alarm system.
You could put stickers for a brand of home alarm on your door, or put a "beware of dog" sign up on your property. If you want to be really tricky, you could play some dog sounds in side the house and leave a dog food bowl in a prominent area near a window.
4. Keep your home looking clean
If your home looks like it hasn’t been cared for in a while, potential burglars might assume that no one has been home. Before you leave your house, tidy up the outside of your home. Rake the leaves, shovel the snow, sweep the deck, or any other activities that make it look like your home was recently maintained.
If you are planning on being away for some time, you may want to hire someone to maintain your lawn while you're gone.
5. Leave a car out front
If you have multiple cars, or if you’re leaving town by another form of transportation, then park your car out front. Most people either leave their car in the garage, or take their car with them when they’re out of town. By leaving your car in the driveway, potential burglars will assume that someone is home.
6. Have a friend help you out
If you’re going to be gone for a long time, it's a good idea to ask a friend or a neighbor to come over to the house occasionally.
Even if your home is clean when you leave, many red flags can occur when you’re not home. If it snows and the walk and drive are not shoveled, burglars may take notice. If your trash cans aren’t brought to the curb on garbage day, thieves may catch on to your absence. If your mailbox is overflowing, that’s a sign that no one’s home.
Having a friend check in and take care of your home can go a long way towards making your house look occupied. In case this all fails and your home is broken into, having a friend who checks in will help, since they'll be able to alert you as soon as possible so you can file a report for theft.
No matter how long you’re gone for, it’s relatively easy to keep your home looking occupied.
Follow as many of these steps as you can, and your house will always look like your home. By taking these simple measures, you can help protect your home, your valuables, and all of your possessions.
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