By Bill Primavera
Many people are planning now for summer vacation travel. Not surprisingly, the Insurance Information Institute reports that the majority of home burglaries occur in July and August when many people are enjoying time off.
According to that same organization, nine out of 10 home break-ins could be prevented if homeowners would take simple steps to burglar-proof their homes.
Of all the years we lived in our historic home in Yorktown, we didn’t invest in a sophisticated security system until we were ready to sell the house, feeling that it would be an added incentive for prospective buyers. Less than 20 percent of households nationwide have security systems. The rest of us must take other precautions to discourage break-ins while we’re away from home.
How well I remember the discomfort combined with the relaxation of every vacation while we were traveling, especially if it were for more than a week. In the early days, I remember that we would call home and feel comforted to hear our answering machine just to know that everything was “still there.” And when returning home, there would always be that anxious moment when we were turning onto our street and my wife and I would turn to each other and ask, “Is the house still standing?”
We had good reason to be Nervous Nellies, having sustained two break-ins when we lived in the city. We developed a litany of devices to make our home less appealing to burglars, combined with other ideas combed from other sources, some of which are really creative. For those who don’t have security systems, consider the following steps.
Lock All Doors and Windows: This may seem unnecessary to even mention but 28 percent of all burglaries occur without having to use force to gain entry. Burglars simply find an unlocked window or door, so be sure to double-check all the windows and deadbolt all exterior doors. Place a metal or wood dowel in the track of sliding glass doors. And, if you have a spare key hidden outside, make sure it’s brought inside while you’re away
Hire a House Visitor/Sitter: It’s well worth the investment to have someone pick up the newspapers or mail if you haven’t had them temporarily discontinued, water the plants and, if you have them, take care of pets.
Invest in Timers: To make your house look lived in, utilize timers to have the lights go on and off at various times throughout the day.
Unplug and Disconnect: Unplug all electronics and small appliances that don’t need to stay on while you’re away. This will save electricity and reduce the risk of fire. Turn off your garage door opener so thieves can’t open it with a universal remote. If you’ll be away for a week or more, turn your hot water heater down and consider turning off the water to sinks, toilets, dishwasher and washing machine to avoid possible flooding.
Don’t Close Blinds: Leave them and curtains open. If something valuable is visible through the window, move it.
Light Up at Night: If you have outdoor lighting, make sure that your timer turns it on while you’re away.
Maintain Your Lawn: If it’s an extended trip and you normally maintain your lawn yourself, arrange to have a service take care of it while you’re away.
Leave Your Car in the Driveway: Or invite your neighbor to pull in and out of your driveway to keep activity going on during the week.
Don’t Leave a Voicemail Message: Don’t tell the world you’re away by leaving a message to that effect on your voicemail.
With these precautions in place, you will feel more relaxed while away enjoying yourself.
Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc. (www.PrimaveraPR.com). His real estate site is www.PrimaveraRealEstate.com. To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.