Fifteen Ways to Discourage a Criminal
Wonderful! You're going away on vacation. You've worked hard, and you deserve a break. Make sure you don't get a "Break, "as well.
Here are fifteen tips to help ensure that when you return from vacation, your home and possessions will be as you left them. If you follow some of these suggestions, you'll enjoy your holiday more, because you'll know you've taken ample precautions. The only thing that you'll worry about will be whether you left the iron or the stove on, by mistake. There is no cure for that worry!
1. Put your mail on hold. There's nothing that says "Nobody's home," like an overflowing mailbox or a pile of mail on the floor under your door's letterbox. Do this early enough to allow the post office to get the information to your letter carrier. Just to be sure, do it three or four days before you leave.
2. By the same token, put your newspaper delivery on hold. A pile of unread newspapers is as clear as a neon sign saying, "Vacant," to the thief.
3. Get a timer for your lights. They're not expensive, and they give the illusion that someone's at home.
4. Leave some music playing, or put the TV on a twenty-four-hour talk channel. Anyone approaching your premises will hear it and assume someone is there.
5. Never put a message on your answering machine which states, "We're not home right now…," because if a well-organized thief is calling to see if anyone's home he'll know that the coast is clear. You might as well put on a message saying, "Come right in."
6. A debate about whether to leave your drapes open or closed when you're on vacation has raged on for years. You have to decide what's best for you, taking into account what's visible from outside your windows. Some fence-sitters in this debate leave some drapes closed and some open.
7. Another debate surrounds whether or not you should leave your car in the driveway. Many people feel that an observant thief will notice a car that never moves. Others think that a car on the property will convince a thief that there's someone home.
8. Padlock all gates which lead to your backyard. A thief won't relish the idea of trying to get back over the gate while carrying your video player and gun collection.
9. Get someone trustworthy to go to your home regularly to move the curtains, water your plants and do whatever yard work needs to be done. It's unlikely that your trustworthy friend will have a home-wrecking party as always happens in the movies.
10. Give a contact number to a neighbor or friend. This is for emergencies only.
11. It may seem obvious, but double-check that all the doors and windows are locked.
12. If you have an alarm system, call the security company and let them know that you're leaving and if someone's taking care of your property, inform that too. Suggest that they send a representative to drive by your place every couple of days. (Not at a regular time, and not too slowly or obviously.)
13. Let the cops of the locality know your travel plans. As with the security company, they could drive by occasionally, as long as it's not too obvious.
14. Get a floor safe and store your valuables there. If installed properly, it should be undetectable.
15. Consider hiring a house-sitter. Having a dependable person living in your home may be your best insurance against being a robbery victim.
It may sound more complicated than a military exercise, but remember that you can start on your preparations well in advance of going away. Remember, it will all be worth it when you see your property retreat in your rearview mirror, secure in the knowledge that you've done everything in your power to protect your home and belongings from criminal attack.