Skip to main content
Search
Services
TRAVEL

Foil burglars when you're on vacation

It pays to take a few easy steps to secure your home

By Morgan Murphy
Southern Living

vert.papers.jpg
Have someone pick up your mail and newspapers, or suspend the service until you get home.

YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS

Tourism and Leisure

(Southern Livingexternal link) -- Nothing kills all the extra sleep and relaxation you got on vacation like returning home to fill out a police report and meet with a claims adjuster.

My best advice? Find a house sitter, or at least a neighbor or friend, to check the property every day or so. Just be sure it is someone you trust (you'll also want to avoid any unplanned frat parties).

You also might consider taking high-value items such as jewelry, silver or that prized Hummel collection to a family member's house for safekeeping. That way, the only thing you'll have to worry about on vacation is which margarita to order. Good luck out there.

Security tips

  • Make sure all your doors and windows are locked and that the alarm system is armed.
  • Suspend newspaper and mail delivery, or have someone pick it up for you.
  • Don't post your name on the mailbox -- it makes it easier for a thief to find your home number and call to see if you're home.
  • Give your local police department the dates that you'll be gone. Many police departments will step up patrols by your house.
  • Don't change your answering machine message to say, "I'm out of town." Instead, say "I can't get to the phone right now; I'm feeding the dog, Fang."
  • Leave the curtains, blinds and cars as you normally do when you're home.
  • Leave a radio on; most break-ins occur during daylight hours.
  • Don't put a house key under the mat or in one of those fake rocks; give it to a trusted neighbor instead.
  • Stupid crooks

    Despite Hollywood's depiction of them, thieves tend to be dense, lazy and cowardly. If you're guarding against a break-in by "Ocean's Eleven" stars Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Matt Damon, you've gone too far. So while you might think burglars would see right through the old lights-on-a-timer routine, chances are they won't.

    What you want to create in the mind of the cat man is a bit of uncertainty. Get them thinking things such as: "Is that person home?" "Did someone just turn on that light?" "Does the house have an alarm?" "Will the neighbors spot me?" "Will anything worth stealing be inside?" "Does Fang bite?"

    Buy inexpensive light timers. (Make up for the wasted electricity by turning up the AC and setting your hot water heater to "vacation.") Even if you don't have a security system, buy a sign and stick it in the yard. Tell your neighbors you'll be out of town, and give them a hotel or cell number where you can be reached.


    Copyright 1996-2005 SOUTHERN LIVING Magazine. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
    Story Tools
    Subscribe to Time for $1.99 cover
    Top Stories
    Get up-to-the minute news from CNN
    CNN.com gives you the latest stories and video from the around the world, with in-depth coverage of U.S. news, politics, entertainment, health, crime, tech and more.
    Top Stories
    Get up-to-the minute news from CNN
    CNN.com gives you the latest stories and video from the around the world, with in-depth coverage of U.S. news, politics, entertainment, health, crime, tech and more.
    Search JobsMORE OPTIONS


     
    Search
    © 2007 Cable News Network.
    A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
    Terms under which this service is provided to you.
    Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
    Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by CNN.com
    Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
    Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines