Summer sees a lot of people go away on holiday; and the Better Business Bureau warns that while many scams are online, crooks are out in the real world looking for ways to part people from their valuables. Making sure your house is locked before you go away is a good start; but an empty house is a tempting target for thieves.
Social media can play a large part in alerting the unscrupulous to the fact that you are not home. “We all broadcast when we are away,” says Evan Kelly, senior communications advisor for the BBB Serving Mainland BC. “Posting that you’re just checking in at such-and-such an airport is a green light for crooks.”
He notes that while the temptation is strong to post pictures and updates while away, “People need to fight that urge to post things all the time. You should wait until you get back to post about your holidays. Take care in the online world.”
Leaving all the blinds and curtains closed is an indication that no one is home. If you leave some open, make sure that no valuables are visible from the outside. Kelly adds that it is a good idea to make sure to keep bushes trimmed back around windows and doors that can be seen from the road, so thieves have no place to hide.
Leaving a light or lights on constantly while you are away is also an invitation to thieves. Kelly advises getting a timer that can be programmed to turn lights on and off.
“Having a friend available who can house-sit, or check your house, is a good option,” he says. The person can move a parked car to a different location, turn lights on and off, and make the house look occupied.
If you will be away for an extended period, Kelly advises making arrangements for someone to cut your lawn. “If your lawn is looking long and scraggy in comparison with your neighbours, it’s an indication you’re away.” He also suggests letting neighbours know you won’t be home (although make sure to let them know if someone will be checking the house).
Other precautions to safeguard your home include removing any spare keys you might have hidden outside; double checking to make sure all doors and windows are fastened; installing a piece of wood or metal in the tracks of sliding doors so they cannot be opened from outside if someone gets past the lock; and letting your home security system provider know you will be away and for how long.
Just because we live in small communities should not make us complacent, says Kelly. “There’s crime everywhere, and we all have valuables in our homes. There’s nothing to stop thieves going to smaller towns.” And no one wants to come back from a relaxing summer getaway to find their world has been turned upside down at home.