Janis Peterson, GRI, ABR, CSP Realtor®
It's summertime and the living is easy—especially for burglars. While you're heading off to a secluded beach or lakefront cottage, burglars may be planning a visit to this year's hot destination: your neighborhood.
Apart from digging a moat and fortifying the walls, what can you do to deter break-ins at your castle? Take precautions by preparing for your home's security as thoroughly as you plan the details of your trip.
1) Make your house look lived-in. This overriding strategy can be accomplished in various ways, the easiest being to ask a friend or relative to house sit. If this isn't possible, read on.
2) Keep pets at home. They're more comfortable, and they act as a built-in deterrent, especially if your dog has a big bark. Hire a dog walker or cat sitter to come by every day to feed, water and walk or let out your pets.
3) Leave blinds and curtains positioned where you would normally have them. Refrain from the temptation to close up the house so passersby can't see inside.
4) Use timers on lights, a television and a radio throughout the house. These inexpensive devices build on the illusion that someone's home.
5) Do not change the greeting on your answering machine. If possible, call in for messages and erase or save them. A caller hearing a pause followed by a long series of beeps (indicating unheard messages) will assume you're away.
6) Cancel mail and newspaper deliveries or have a trusted neighbor or friend collect them daily.
7) Check your calendar for stray deliveries such as furniture on order, and reschedule the delivery.
8) Ask someone to move an ungaraged vehicle occasionally, especially if you'll be away more than a few days.
9) Keep up your lawn. Continue the gardening service or ask someone to cut the grass. Offer to reciprocate with a neighbor.
10) Arrange for snow removal. Keep the walks, driveway and vehicle snow-free as when you're home.
11) Hide garbage cans. This may seem odd, but think about it. When people are home, they produce garbage. Empty garbage cans advertise your absence.
12) Do not leave an itinerary or marked-up calendar hanging conspicuously on the refrigerator or anywhere else within a stranger's view.
13) Refrain from telling service people or strangers that you'll be out of town. An overheard conversation at the hardware store could tip off the professional prowler behind you on line.
14) Never hide a key outside under the mat. Burglars know that trick, too.
15) Tell a trusted neighbor your plans and leave an itinerary so you can be reached. Consider giving this same neighbor a spare key and the access code to your home alarm in case it accidentally goes off.
16) Test your home alarm system. After a break-in is not the time to discover the system is malfunctioning.
17) Ask police if they sponsor a home check program. In some communities, an officer will periodically check on a deserted house.
18) List all valuables with serial numbers, dates of purchase and prices. Keep the list in a secure place. It's a good idea to update the list periodically.
19) Store jewelry or furs outside your home. Leave jewelry in a safe-deposit box, and arrange for a local fur salon or dry cleaner to store the furs.
20) Check that all doors and windows have been locked. Obvious, but worth adding to your list.
A vacation should be a time of relaxation and fun, free from everyday stresses. Taking the time to prepare your home for your absence will help safeguard against any unwanted company dropping in while you're away.
"Real Service in Real Estate." For a personal consultation on buying or selling real estate, Janis Peterson, GRI, ABR, CSP Realtor® can be reached at (610) 642-3744, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors® is an independently owned and operated member of The Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc.
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