Even the best intentions to keep your vacation home safe with light timers and occasional mail pick-up can fall short without a robust security strategy in place and careful monitoring. Tricks vacation homeowners use including leaving tons of lights on and blasting a television in the middle of the night can actually tip off would-be burglars that your vacation home is empty, according to reporting by the UK publication Metro. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to take a lot of time to get set-up with a security plan that keeps your vacation home safe year-round.
Here are 5 steps to get you started:
Automate Your Home
Automating everything in your home from security systems to your window shades can help deter criminals from break-ins and protect it from the elements like harsh weather. To get started, try a remote surveillance system from a service like ADT, which lets you check in on your home right from your smartphone. With a tool like this, you can look for suspicious activity and get alerts when someone comes to the door. And with the help of automated motorized shades, like those made by Lutron, you can make it look like someone is home drawing the curtains every night.
Next, control the temperature of your second home with a smart thermostat like the Nest Learning Thermostat. After a quick installation and weeks’ worth of use, the thermostat automatically adapts and programs itself, saving energy, money and time.
Schedule Preventive Maintenance
Burglary and harsh weather aren’t the only way vacation homes are damaged while owners are away. Unlocking your home and finding bugs, critters and droppings can ruin your vacation before it ever gets started. Combat pests by scheduling ongoing preventive maintenance with a reputable service provider like Orkin. As a bonus, burglars monitoring your vacation schedule will be thrown off by the appearance of pest control technicians.
With the help of a smart lock system, you won’t have to rely on your neighbors or vacation home’s neighborhood association to let the professionals in. Technology like August keyless systems allow you to remotely lock and unlock your door from a smartphone app, create virtual keys for your pest control experts, and even see and speak to guests before they enter your home.
Keep Personal Info Off Social Media
Resist the temptation to post personal details about your vacation home, location or schedule. Burglars scour social media to find out who is home and who is not, and can gather personal information to hack alarm codes and online passwords. It’s also wise to check your social media photos and remove anything with metadata and geotagging information. You can turn this feature off in your smartphone for future photos. And if you must share some photos and vacation updates, change your Facebook settings to only show your posts to close friends and family.
Make Your Vacation Home Look Lively
Turning on lights and blasting the television isn’t an effective way to deter burglars. Make your home look lively by holding your mail at the post office, hiring an occasional house sitter to check-in on your property, and getting creative. Reader’s Digest suggests asking a neighbor to park in your driveway or leave tire tracks in fresh snow to deter burglars.
Ask the Police to Check-in
Contact the local police department and let them know your vacation home is sitting empty. Share your travel plans, and always alert police if guests or pest control will be coming by. Some cities even offer free Vacation Check programs run by volunteers to stop by your property and look for any suspicious activity or behavior.
It only takes one bad experience to turn your vacation sour. Stay proactive about your vacation home’s security by blending common sense, automated tools and regular check-ins. Ultimately, you’re protecting both your property and future vacation memories at the same time.