Going away is good fun and a great experience for everybody, however, you need to make sure that you don't get too carried away in the days before you go. You need to take the time to think about your home whilst you're away.... could it be a potential target for criminals?
Criminals look for signs that people are away on holiday and will try to take full advantage. Fortunately, there are ways of keeping your home safe whilst you're away, you just need to take the time to make the right checks and arrangements.
Here are 10 ways to keep your home safe whilst you're away on holiday.
1. Ask somebody to visit your home regularly
If you're going to be away from your home for a while, it's a good idea to ask a neighbour or family member to pop round each morning and evening. They will be able to open and close any curtains or blinds and can turn the lights on for a little while.
This will keep the impression that there are people living there, and that you're not away on holiday. They can also put your bins out on bin day, another good sign that you're at home.
2. Keep your driveway in use
Cars being missing from the driveway is a clear sign that the homeowners are on holiday or visiting friends and family elsewhere. To combat this, you could ask a friend or neighbour to leave one of their cars on your drive.
Again, this won't make it too obvious that you're away on holiday and people won't think anything of it. You may have simply bought a new car.
3. Ask someone to house sit
If the first two tips on this list don't combat your concerns, you could ask somebody to look after your home for the entire duration of your holiday. This could be a close friend, grandchild or neighbour.
We would advise only asking somebody that you trust to look after your home..... the last thing you want is to return to a home full of damaged items thanks to a house party gone wrong.
4. Use automatic timers
You can give the illusion that you're home without even being in the country. Before you leave, you can set timers for your lights and central heating system. This will ensure that every evening, once the darkness arrives, your home will be lit, and your boiler will be visibly working.
5. Prevent a build-up of post / deliveries
The easiest sign that the occupants of a house are away on holiday is a build-up of post and deliveries such as milk and newspapers. Post can be left crammed in the letterbox, and a large pile will build-up in your hallway. If you have a glass porch then people are going to see all of the letters piling up.
To prevent this from happening, you should make use of Royal Mail's Keepsafe service. This service means that Royal Mail will keep hold of your mail whilst you're away, rather than causing a build-up at your home. When you're back from your holiday, your post will then be delivered.
Most people go on holiday for a maximum of 14 days at a time, with some people enjoying the sunshine for three weeks. This means that the cost of the keepsafe is also very reasonable, costing just £14 for 17 days.
Remember to also cancel any milk or newspaper deliveries whilst you're away.
6. Stop and think on social media
Social media is great for many things, such as keeping in touch with your family and playing online games. However, it can be a dangerous tool if you share too much information. As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, going on holiday is very exciting and you want to tell everybody about your destination.
You need to think twice before you start sharing your holiday plans publicly on social media, as you never really know who could be reading your posts. Modern technology means that you may be oversharing without even realising it.
We've seen too many examples of people posting about going to Spain in July for two weeks. Potential criminals can easily read this, look through your profile, and piece the puzzle of your life together. If you post a status on your mobile, for example, your location may be automatically turned on and it will show exactly where you were when you posted your update.
We would advise that you keep your profiles private and wait until after the holiday to post all of your lovely photographs and thoughts on your trip. You can always call or visit the people you want to talk to about your holiday.
7. Install CCTV or a burglar alarm
Having CCTV cameras and/or a security alarm on your home can work as a burglar deterrent, as they know it's not worth the risk causing attention to themselves. There are plenty of options out there, and some even feed live images through to your mobile phone or tablet device.
Remember to set your burglar alarm before you leave your home.
8. Check all access points
This is very important. On the morning of your departure, you need to go around your property and ensure that all access points to your home, garden, sheds and garage are closed and locked. There is nothing worse than getting on the plane and panicking about having left something open or unlocked.
Once you've secured the gate, garage, and or shed you can focus on the house. Go around all your rooms and ensure all the windows have been locked and the keys are kept in a safe location. In the last few moments before you leave for the airport, check that the back door is locked and again keep any keys in a safe place.
Then, as you're loading up the car go back and check that you locked the front door.
9. Think about your pets
Pets are sadly targets for burglars, especially dogs and cats. In fact, according to this Daily Mail article, there were more than 1750 dogs stolen across the country in 2016 - that's five dogs each every day.
You need make the right arrangements to ensure that your dog either has a family member or friend's house to go to whilst you're away, or a kennel to stay in. You should never leave a dog alone for more than a few hours.
10. Mow the lawn.
A day or two before you leave for your holiday, look at the condition of your lawn. It may be wise to take the time to mow the lawn in your front garden, and the back garden if this is easily visible or accessible.
Your lawn will grow quicker during the summer months, the busiest time of the year for holidays, and an overgrown garden will suggest that the occupants have been away for quite a while. This is a sign that a potential thief will be unable to ignore.
A quick cut just before you go away will ensure that your garden looks great during your time away and won't cause any suspicion.
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Note: This article was originally published on 15/02/2018 and updated on 19/07/2021 to reflect current information.