There’s nothing quite like having a vacation home you can escape to. But when you’re not there, is your summer home safe without you? It’s something to think about as, according to SafeAtLast.com, “Predictive analytics show that three out of four homes in the US will be burglarized at some point in the next 20 years.” And when a home is empty, it’s an even bigger target. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) states that the average loss per burglary across the country is in the thousands, not including actual property damage. But there are some simple steps you can take to ensure your summer home safety. Let’s take a look!
Install a Security System
Statistics state that:
- homes without any type of security system have a 300% greater chance of being broken into
- only a minority of homes across the US have security systems in place
When it comes to summer home safety, you’ve got a few security options including purchasing and installing individual security items yourself. Installing a self-monitoring video doorbell camera, along with wireless window/door sensors that send alerts to your smartphone are both good deterrents. Of course, you can also pay for a professional 24/7 monitoring alarm system so they’ll alert you to any nefarious activities and send the authorities to your home. It’s a popular choice as ADT reports having millions of users across the US. And be sure to utilize those stickers and placards provided by the security system as thieves shy away from well-secured homes. You can also install a doorbell that plays the sound of a loud barking dog when rung or place a ‘beware of dog’ sign in your yard or at your entryway.
Lighting is Key
Installing motion-sensor lights along your windows, entryways, and walkways provides an instant dissuasion for would-be criminals. They won’t take a chance with a suddenly lit entranceway that can be seen by neighbors or that’s being recorded/transmitted to a smartphone, it’s not that appealing. The same goes for lighting within your home – install timers so that lights randomly turn on and off in different rooms at different times to give the appearance that someone is in the home. And randomly is the important note here as thieves will quickly recognize a light that goes on and off every day at a specific time.
Don’t Leave Your Home Vulnerable
According to GoKeyless.com, more than 40% of home burglaries in the US are unforced entries, meaning thieves entered the homes through unlocked doors or windows. When you’ve left your summer home for the last time, do a walk around your property while ensuring all doors and windows are securely locked. In addition:
- use security bars if you have sliding glass doors
- make sure window screens are properly in place
- don’t hide a spare key under a doormat or a fake rock, as they’re common places to look
- securely put away any ladders that could be used to help gain entry into your home
- ensure that all air conditioning units have security brackets installed as these are common entry points for burglars
- double-check your basement doors, garden shed locks, and garage doors
- consider installing keyless entry locks as would-be thieves will look for a home with easier access
- hire a local service to mow your lawn and keep your gardens tidy, as weeds, and overgrown hedges and lawns, are sure giveaways that no one’s home
It’s interesting to note that nearly half of all burglaries are crimes of opportunity, meaning while you may not have been targeted in advance, a potential thief saw something to their liking and decided to grab it for their own.
Know Thy Neighbor
Sometimes nosey neighbors are a blessing in disguise as they’ll notice any suspicious activities in or around your vacation property including looters and heaven forbid, squatters, a fire, or a natural disaster. But if something does happen, a trustworthy neighbor can notify you and/or the police immediately. They can also regularly pick up your mail, parcels, and/or newspapers so they don’t pile up and make your home appear unoccupied. You can also leave a spare key with your neighbor in case of an emergency where your home needs to be accessed. They could also occasionally park one of their vehicles in your driveway to further give the impression that someone is home.
Upload Your Home Inventory List with DomiDocs
You’d be surprised how hard it is to come up with a list of things that were in your home after a burglary. So be proactive by establishing a home inventory list on paper or using a spreadsheet. Your summer home may offer up goodies like BBQs, big-screen TVs, jet skis, or boating and ATV equipment, making it a tempting haul for thieves. Do a walkthrough of your home and then upload the video to the secure DomiDocs’ Home Management Platform®, and do the same with photos of specific valuables in your home while adding serial numbers to your inventory list.
Do You Rent Out Your Vacation Home?
If you’re regularly renting out your vacation property, hiring a boots-on-the-ground property management company is a great way to help ensure summer home safety as they’ll be visiting your property frequently to welcome new tenants. You can also arrange for them to check your unoccupied summer home during the off-season, where they can conduct both an internal and external inspection, and then report back to you. Check with the police department at your vacation home destination to see if they offer a police check program; many departments utilize officers and/or volunteers to check residences. If you have heirlooms or valuables in your vacation home, consider leaving them in your primary home or establishing a secure owner’s closet where you can store the items in a locked closet or room. And if you’ll be welcoming an array of vacation tenants, summer home safety dictates purchasing programmable door locks so that you can easily change the code without the fear of a thief coming back with a copied key when you’re away. Make sure your vacation home insurance covers everything you have within your home, as well as for the property itself.
Besides these summer home safety tips, consider protecting your home year-round against property and home title fraud, the fastest-growing crime in America today! Powered by the DomiDocs’ Homeowner Management Platform®, HomeLock™ provides 24/7/365 protection while scanning and monitoring 200+ data points. You’ll also be notified if there are any missed payments, unpaid bills, or county-level clerical errors. Read our HomeLock™ FAQs, then be sure to sign up today!
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