Everyone looks forward to their next holiday. Getting away from the rat race is a treasured pastime and should be a great, stress free opportunity dedicated to relaxation and recuperation for all involved.
Unfortunately, returning from holiday can sometimes come with a nasty shock, as it can give thieves the perfect opportunity to ransack your home while you’re lounging on a beach sipping a pena colada thousands of kilometres away.
Making sure your home remains secure while on holiday isn’t too difficult, but it does take a bit of planning. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can keep your home free from human pests, no matter how long you plan on being away.
A simple, preliminary step towards home safety is getting in touch with your local neighbourhood watch. There are many neighbourhood organisations around Australia which are dedicated to making communities safer. Joining one of these groups can really help, and at the very least reporting your absence to them will create awareness in the minds of the people who live close by and can keep an eye on your place while you’re away.
Being a part of a neighbourhood watch program is no guarantee of your home’s safety, but supporting these community initiatives is a good idea that can have greater long term benefits than just theft prevention.
Keeping up appearances
The secret of keeping your home secure on holidays is to keep your house looking occupied. Thieves prey on people who leave their homes unattended, as it makes their operations that much easier. Keeping your house looking lived in when it’s not isn’t the easiest of tasks, but it’s the single best way to ensure its security. Doing so requires a little forethought and maybe even a little investment, but it will be well worth it to ensure peace of mind.
Nothing screams, ‘We’re not home!’ more than a pile of newspapers growing outside the front door, or a letterbox slowly overflowing with mail. Arrange with any subscription services you have to postpone your deliveries until your return. After all, there’s no point in having your newspaper or milk delivered to your door if there’s no one inside to enjoy it.
Mail is harder to cancel altogether, so you might have to enlist the help of a trusted neighbour, friend or family member to help you deal with it. Try to arrange with someone you trust to have it collected and kept safe until your return.
Get a house sitter
The absolute best way to make a home look occupied is to…have it occupied. If you know someone who wouldn’t mind, or might even want, to housesit for you, then you can go away without ever having to leave your house empty. If you have no luck with friends and family, there are a number of online portals dedicated to finding someone to housesit for you for free (such as Aussie House Sitters or Happy House Sitters). Getting a house sitter is an especially good option if you have pets or plants that require looking after while you’re away.
If getting a house sitter isn’t for you or your friends or family members are all too busy with their own lives to housesit, then try to arrange with someone to at least come around once a week or so to collect the mail and water the posies. If they really like you, you might even be able to convince them to give the lawn a quick mow and move the car around in the driveway to perfect the illusion of occupation.
Something you can do that won’t intrude on other people’s time is install timer and sensor lighting. The installation of timers is a very simple process, and allows the lights to be turned on and off at preset times throughout the day. This way, the lights can come on for a few hours in the evening to make the home appear to be occupied, but still be turned off again so as not to chew through valuable electricity.
Clean up…a little
Before you set off on your holiday, don’t be tempted to clean the entire house to be completely spick and span while you’re away. Obviously this doesn’t mean leaving litter outside to blow around, but a pair of shoes strewn over the front porch, a car in the driveway or radio left playing in a room can all make it seem as though you’re still happily at home.
Making sure your permanent security systems are up to date and operating optimally before you go away is critical. There’s no point coming home and discovering a burglary only to realise your security camera had a bird dropping covering its lens.
Make sure your alarm and camera systems (if you have them) are working properly, and check your doors and windows for weak spots. Doors, especially the frames and hinges, can deteriorate over time and make forced entry easier.
One great tip that is often overlooked is to take your keys from their regular hiding places. While you’re on holiday don’t leave your front door key under the flowerpot or the doormat. Instead take it with you or give it to a trusted friend to look after. Going away for days at a time gives someone time to scope out your house: many common hiding places for keys are not secure enough to stay hidden through a thorough sweep.
Keep your valuable possessions out of sight. It may seem obvious, but if you’ve recently bought a fancy new plasma TV or next gen video game system, don’t leave the box on the curb side waiting for collection. Thieves will spot these in a second and will be instantly informed that there is something well worth stealing inside. Crush the box up so it fits in the recycling bin or take it to the dump yourself.
Even things inside your home could benefit from a little hiding. Secure blinds on the windows to stop anyone peering through and seeing what sort of lounge appliances you have or whether your toaster is fancy enough to nick.
A final word
Keeping your home safe from thievery is never going to be a foolproof practice. When you decide to take a well-earned holiday, keeping unwanted guests away can be even more difficult than usual. However, by taking some simple steps and not just throwing caution to the wind, your home can be made a lot more secure. If you want to spend your holidays actually relaxing, rather than wondering if someone is thinking up a way to get inside your garage and their hands on your Harley Davidson, then keeping the tips we’ve covered in mind is a good idea.