The holiday season is all about wintertime vacations and spending time with family and friends. Unfortunately, the most wonderful time of the year is also prime time for burglars to target empty homes. These security tips will help you travel with maximum confidence and peace of mind, as well as avoid returning to an unpleasant surprise.
1. Lock the doors and windows
While this may sound obvious, most burglars enter through unlocked doors and windows, so be sure to double-check whether you properly closed all of them before you leave for a longer period of time.
2. Hide or lock up your valuables
While it’s better to leave expensive items at home while you’re travelling to avoid losing them or being pickpocketed, easy-to-grab things are extremely alluring to criminals. Gather high-value items in both your home and garage and lock them up in a household safe. There are multiple sizes and features to choose from, and a safe adds an extra layer of security to your home while you’re traveling.
3. Don’t broadcast your plans online
In this day and age, people tend to overshare online. While it’s tempting to show off what a great time you’re having away from home, try not to post about your travels on social media until after you return home. You can never be completely sure that only your friends can see the information you share, especially if you have many followers or a public profile.
4. Don’t leave a hidden key
Hiding a key for a family member or friend to get inside is a common trick we’ve all done before. If you have any keys hidden, make sure you remove them before leaving town. If you need a family member or a friend to check on your home while you’re gone, just give them a key in person. They can perhaps also help you with carrying out normal routines to make it seem less like the home is empty, such as watering plants and collecting deliveries and mail.
5. Adjust the thermostat
Adjust the thermostat to prevent the HVAC system from needlessly heating or cooling empty rooms. Programmable smart thermostats make this a lot easier, and you can remotely adjust them to comfortable temperatures for when you get back. In the wintertime, it’s important to keep water pipes from freezing and bursting by maintaining some level of heat in your home. The ideal temperature varies but tends to be somewhere around 55-65° Fahrenheit. Check with your building manager or your neighbors to find the ideal temperature for your residence.
6. Use smart locks and a smart doorbell
A great advantage of having a smart doorbell is that while you’re away, you can see who’s at your door and make sure nobody’s tried to get inside. Most models also allow you to speak remotely with whoever is at your door to give the illusion that you’re still home or are able to play pre-recorded responses. Others can cooperate with your smart lock, enabling you to give access to someone — a friend or family member — remotely.
7. Use your smart home system
If you have an Alexa, activate her ’Away Mode’, which will command her to play pre-recorded conversations that sound real in the middle of the day while you’re not home to fool anyone eavesdropping outside.
For more tips on Chicago living and property-related topics, explore our blog.