Secure your home whilst you travel on vacation this summer

Heather Chilvers from Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty examines the importance of home security and some top tips on what you can do to help prevent burglary whilst you and your family are away on vacation this summer.

While you're on vacation luxuriating on a cruise ship or exploring Europe, enjoying time with friends or loved ones, thieves could be keeping an eye out for properties whose owners are obviously away, as these can be a target for them to rob your home.

Many people in Bermuda manage to find a house sitter, but even if this is the case there are still things you can do to make it look like there is more activity both inside and outside the house than there really is.

Add a security system - If you don't want to deal with a monthly bill, you can buy a DIY alarm system like iSmart Alarm, offering an eight-piece set with an alarm hub, two window sensors, two door sensors, a motion sensor and two keychain remotes very reasonably. For a little more you can purchase the premium package which adds a security camera. An HD camera with audio and motion detection and recording capability also is available.

Get a Wi-Fi doorbell - Products like the Skybell video tapes visitors to your front door, which is accessible by Smartphone.

Vary your lights - If your home is being ‘cased’, would-be thieves may notice that the lights come on at the same time every day and figure that they're on a timer. With new smart lighting technology and home automation packages, homeowners now have the ability to maintain full control over how a living space is illuminated, even while no one is home. Brighten multiple rooms or dim lights from the other side of the city or the other side of the world with an app on your smartphone, or invest in a smart home system that alternates lighting on a schedule.

Up your exterior light game - While you're automating your lights, make sure you have enough of them on the outside of your home. A well-lit place is less likely to be an attractive target for a thief. And motion-activated lights that:

Let your neighbours know - If those who live closest to you know that you're away, they're likely to keep a closer eye on your home and be alerted to strange noises or unfamiliar faces.

Consider mail and newspaper delivery - Thieves may notice an overfilled mailbox and take that as a cue to hit your home, it is a good idea to ask a neighbour or family member to collect it for you, also they could collect any fliers or door hangers littering your front door. One Chinese takeout menu on your welcome mat is no big deal, unless it's there for a week. Three might be an indication that you're not there, which could be an invitation to a thief to make their way in. Newspapers gathering on your front steps may be all the sign a thief needs to target your home. Suspending your delivery for the time you're off island is easy and smart.

Gardening - 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.

Check your doors and windows before you leave - You might not realize you have a back door or first-floor window that's unlocked, but a burglar will. Turning off your electric garage door is also an effective way to keep thieves from opening it with a universal remote. 

Statistics have shown that roughly 32% of all home invasions are unforced entry, meaning they likely occur through an unlocked door or window. That's not an insignificant number. A good rule of thumb? Check once, check twice, and then have another family member check again, because it's easy to prevent someone from just walking right into your home. Making sure the palace is on lockdown while away is still one of the best deterrents out there. Better safe than sorry.

Chill on the social media updates - Just posted a pic on Facebook of the family hanging out on Maui or tweeted about a great restaurant you found near Disneyworld? You just gave thieves all the info they need to make your home next on their list. If you still want to make sure you're sharing your good times online, set your profiles to private. Or, better still wait until you get back to share your photos.

Don't let the anticipation of a well-deserved vacation blind you to the risks of leaving your home unprotected.  A little extra vigilance will help keep your property and belongings safer while you're gone. 

Heather Chilvers is amongst Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty’s Leading Sales Representatives. She has been working in Real Estate for 27 years. If you have a question for Heather, please contact her at hchilvers@brcl.bm or 332 1793. All questions will be treated confidentially.

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