Did you remember to lock that patio door? And who was in charge of getting the newspaper and mail delivery stopped? Don't let nagging doubts about the security of your home ruin your vacation. Print out this checklist to make sure your security strategies will stay in force even when you're away.
- Don't discuss your travel plans in public places. A stranger could overhear you, follow you home to see where you live, and then return when you're on vacation.
- Stop your mail, newspapers, and other deliveries. Better yet, have a neighbor pick them up daily, or arrange to have a family friend who's a college student stay in your home.
- Arrange to have your lawn mowed (or snow shoveled) while you're away. Ask a neighbor to set out your trash on collection day and then retrieve empty cans and recycling bins the same day.
- Leave a phone number where you can be reached with the neighbor who's watching your house (and your monitoring service if you have an alarm).
- Don't change the outgoing message on your answering machine. Never use a message that says you're out of town or provides another number where you can be reached. Instead, call in periodically to retrieve your messages. Before you leave, disable or turn down the ringers on your phones so unanswered rings won't be heard from outside.
- A few days before you leave, set and activate the timers for your lights and a radio or TV to be sure they're working properly.
- Arrange to have a neighbor park in your driveway while you're away. Or if you're leaving your car at home, park it in the driveway instead of the garage, and ask your neighbor to move it from time to time. Unplug your automatic garage-door opener before you leave.
- In the summer, set your air conditioner to a higher temperature, but don't turn it off altogether. A silent compressor on a blistering day is a sure sign that a house is unoccupied.
- Leave blinds and shades in their normal positions. Burglars are attracted to homes with windows that remain covered day and night.
- If you're flying, use luggage tags that conceal your street address (or use your business address on luggage tags). Someone standing behind you at the airport could note your address and decide to check out your house while you're away.
- Before you lock the front door, take one last tour of the house to make sure all windows are locked and that the alarm system is correctly armed.