By Evan Fischer
Did you know that the number of home robberies in the U.S. rises significantly over the holiday season? In the hustle and bustle of the busiest time of year, with many families out shopping, attending parties, or taking time to visit distant relatives, burglars see an opportunity for an undisturbed break-in. And according to FBI data, the number of homes raided by bandits each year between Thanksgiving and the New Year comes close to half a million. So if you don’t want to be one of the victims on that list this year, here are just a few precautions you may want to take before you head to the office holiday party for the evening or take off for a few days with the family.
- Forego social networking. While most people are aware that inhibitions go out the window when it comes to Facebook and Twitter (who knew your boss would see that photo of you at the beach when you were supposed to be home sick?), you may not be aware that internet predators are using social networking sites to find out when you’re not home in order to rob you. So rather than tweeting every detail of your travel plans or instantly posting pics of your holiday vacation, wait until you get back to do so. It could mean returning to a house that is untouched rather that one that’s been tossed.
- Try not to brag. Sometimes you can be your own worst enemy. If you just can’t resist bragging to anyone within earshot that you’ve gotten your spouse and your kids some very expensive new gadgets as holiday gifts, don’t be surprised to come home and find the house ransacked and the gifts nothing but a memory. If people ask what you’ve bought for family and friends this year, simply say it’s a surprise. You never know who could be listening.
- Hire a sitter. If you’re going to be gone, even for a weekend, see if you can’t get someone to housesit for your (as a bonus, you’ll have a built-in pet-sitter). It can definitely be difficult to find someone willing to work over the holidays, but everyone has a friend or coworker that is unattached and willing to get paid for watching your cable and raiding your well-stocked fridge while you’re out of town. And professional services are also available for this very occasion.
- Set a timer. This is a bit old-school, but setting a timer so that lights and electronics come on during hours when the house is usually occupied could just deter burglars intent on targeting empty homes during the holiday season.
- Install home security. While ADT and Brinks are well-known for their alarm systems, you may be surprised to learn that you can get a lot more out of your security system, especially when you’re away. If you think setting a timer on the lights that goes on and off at the same time each day is too obvious, how would you like to have the ability tap into your home security system via smartphone to turn on not only the lights, but also the TV or stereo? If you did it at different times each day, anyone casing the house might think twice about assuming the place was empty. Thanks to companies like Schlage and Vivint home security, which are finding ways to link their products to smartphone apps, you now have a lot more control over your home while you’re away. P.S. You can turn on the lights and heat before you get home!