How many of you are planning to travel over the next weeks or months? Whether it’s trying to take advantage of holiday time off, or obligations to see family during this time of year, it seems that many people hit the road in November and December and they’re not always regular travelers. It’s a fun time for most, but also filled with dangers that might not pop up during the rest of the year. Let’s run through a few you should keep in mind as you pack your bags, shall we?
Many of you are familiar with the advice of not letting anyone know you won’t be home, so that nefarious thieves won’t try to steal from you while you’re away. I’m not saying that you should tell everybody your plans, but let’s be real here: it’s not hard to figure out. Cars aren’t in driveways or parking spots, pets might not be home, lights are off, there’s less movement behind the windows, and, well, it’s the holidays, when so many people are likely to go away even if only for an afternoon and evening. Plus for short trips, you might not bother with stopping the mail or having someone grab it for you, so that will pile up too. It’s possible to hide that you won’t be home for a while, especially if you get a house-sitter who stays at your place, but it’s more effort than simply not posting about your trip on social media.
Since that’s the case, what then?
You can start with some of the standard home security strategies. Things like locking the doors and putting lights on timers (or leaving a few on) are basic, but still necessary. Some thieves are more determined, but many start with looking for whether they can just walk in. Don’t make it that easy for them. Similarly, reduce temptations by closing your blinds or curtains, and keeping valuables out of sight. Leaving your electronics lying around near the front window is part of it, but so is being careful about the boxes you put in your trash. If you’ve ever paid attention to what’s on the curb during the few days after Christmas, you’ve no doubt been able to spot the neighbors who have received new big screen TVs or other big-ticket items. Not-so-good guys see them too, so maybe don’t throw out that packaging on your way out the door for your New Year’s getaway trip.
Making friends with your neighbors is also helpful. You might not have one drop by to get the mail and put it on your kitchen counter every day, and you might not even tell them you’re heading out of town. But if they know who you are and are friendly with you, they’ll likely be able to spot activity that is out of place near your home. More importantly, they’ll likely care enough to do something if they see that, whether it’s texting you to see what’s up or calling the cops and alerting them to potential trouble. It’s an investment of time and energy that can pay off in many ways, and this is one of the most simple. Nosy neighbors aren’t always a blessing, but they can be when it comes to noticing a box truck in the driveway when you haven’t mentioned that you’ll be moving away.
If you want to take a further step, consider installing a home security system. The centrally monitored, monthly subscription is getting a bit out of style, but you can still get one or one of the newer variations like the SimpliSafe or eufy systems that work through your Internet connection and simply alert you if they detect something out of place. Even a simple doorbell camera like a Ring can be helpful here. Thieves don’t always sneak through windows, after all; sometimes they just come in through the front door. Catching video of the act won’t stop a robber, but it will help you catch them later on. In some cases, just having them in place and visible is enough to deter a criminal looking for an easy target. In fact, my friend, Matt Guest, a 20-year veteran cop, has called WiFi security cameras one of the biggest changes in law enforcement, after only cell phones and bodycams, because of how much they can help detect, deter, and solve crimes. At just $40 for something as basic as a Wyze cam (affiliate link! https://amzn.to/3eOpQD0), it’s hard to keep making excuses to point one at your front door.
That’s just keeping the stuff in your home safe. What about when you’re actually on the road? More tomorrow…