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Keeping your home safe while on vacation

A house or apartment left empty while its owners are traveling is a tempting target for criminals. To ensure you have peace of mind while you’re away, here are five things you ought to consider, whether the family is driving to the Shuswap Lake for a long weekend or flying to Japan for a month.

  1. Ask your neighbour to lend a hand. A great way to gain peace of mind while traveling is to ask a friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your home while you’re away. Give this person a key so that he or she can bring your mail in, feed your cat, water your plants, rake your leaves, etc. If you don’t use a garage, you may also want to give this person a key to your car — you never know when your vehicle may need to be moved. He or she should also have your contact information and a copy of your itinerary in case of emergencies.
  2. Hold your newspaper delivery. A pile of yellowing newspapers on the doorstep is a telltale sign that a home is unoccupied. Stopping the newspaper when you leave town for a while is an easy detail to forget and one that will make you a sure target. If you’re still reading newsprint, make sure you stop service when you leave on vacation.
  3. Careful about your answering machine. Be careful what you say on your answering machine or voice mail. Callers don’t need to know that you’re not home, they just need to know that you can’t come to the phone right now.
  4. Don’t forget the landscaping. If you’re a diligent homeowner who mows his lawn every week, and things start to look overgrown and neglected, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that you’re not around. If you plan on being away for an extended period of time, hire someone to take care of the landscaping chores in your absence.
  5. Careful about what you say on social media. In a world where it seems everyone is sharing what they’re up to on social media, it’s important to stop and think: Who exactly is reading this? The anonymity of the internet can encourage us to share personal information without fully realizing that there may be hundreds of complete strangers receiving our daily musings. Would you announce to a crowd that you will be leaving your house unattended for two weeks this December? If not, then you should think twice about posting your detailed vacation plans on social media, especially if that information is visible to Internet users other than your friends and family (and it probably is).