If you're travelling the last thing you want is to return to a home that has been either vandalised or in a worse case scenario broken into. Rather than sharing images from your holiday on social media you'll be trying to come to terms with how this happened and trying to get back what you can from your insurance provider. All of these tips are quite simple and most people forget that these small things can allow you to have a stress free holiday knowing that your home is secure.
Asking Someone to Watch Your Home
One of the simplest and easiest options would be asking a neighbour, friend or family member to keep an eye on your home while you're away (whether it be for a two day holiday or one that lasts for two weeks). In most cases you will be able to return the favour when your neighbour, friend or family member goes on holiday and it gives you the peace of mind knowing your property is being monitored. The neighbours surrounding me are quite old and don't go on holidays that much anymore so to say thank you I usually return the favour by buying them a box of chocolates.
A safety measure that I never thought of until I recently started travelling was to unplug all appliances that I wouldn't use while abroad. For example, most people turn of their TV by the remote and leave it on a standby mode, this is still draining power as the appliance is still plugged in to the socket. Even a WiFi router is something most people overlook when travelling since most people use WiFi up to the moment they leave for the airport or train station. A WiFi router can be hacked easily, whether it be an easy to guess password or whether the router is weak, this puts you at risk when you return as criminals can monitor your internet use and gain passwords and credit card details when using online services. If you unplug your WiFi box this means there is no chance hackers can get access to your WiFi box since it won't appear online. The same principle applies to garage doors openers, they can easily be hacked into and allow your garage door to be opened, which not only allows criminals access to your car but some garages are connected to the insides of houses. It's surprising and scary that these hackers can gain access to your garage in minutes and in some cases seconds.
Don't Announce You're Going Away
As much as we all love seeing people's posts on Facebook stating that they're enjoying a cheeky margarita in Gatwick's North Terminal with the overuse of emojis in their post, this is announcing that you have an empty house. Some people don't realise that social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram are available for anyone and everyone to see if your account isn't private. There is more than enough time for you to post images and tell the world highlights of your holiday when you return. This is the most common mistake people make as most people are delighted to announce that they're going to enjoy two weeks in the sun while they know most people have to work, oh how I envy them. But unfortunately some people return to see that they have been burgled or even have had their property vandalised, that I don't envy.
Make Sure Everything is Locked Properly
No I don't mean the front door, I'm not that stupid. Well I mean do lock the front door but there are other measures you can take to make sure your property is locked and secure. Windows can be locked by simply shutting them but some windows come with a key which make sure that these windows can't be opened at all. Another safety precaution would be to make sure that you haven't left a key under the doormat or under a pot next to your front door. Even a lock box could prove to be the demise for your home, even though some lock boxes have a specific combination to get into them, I wouldn't put it past determined burglars trying different combinations each day to get in. Some lock boxes aren't secure at all as they can be easily broken into by simply smashing it. If you do want a lock box then make sure it's of high quality and durable to protect your keys.
Make it Look Like You're at Home
Before anyone says anything, I don't mean copy the part from Home Alone where Kevin makes the Jordan cutout dance around the room to deter Marv and Harry. The first thing to do would be to focus on the exterior, if you have the same washing hanging to dry outside for five days then it does look like the house is empty. If you need to let washing dry then bring the clothes horse inside. If you have a front garden then make sure it's mowed and there isn't weeds growing left right and centre as this gives the appearance that there hasn't been anyone inside for a while. If you have flowers planted then ask your neighbour or a friend to come round and water your plants so that they don't end up dying, this is especially useful during the summer when there is barely any rainfall. Most people tend to shut their curtains while they're away since people won't be able to look in and see their precious 42" TV in their living room. As much as this is a good idea in concept and plays well during the night, it does look a little unusual during the day and if this remained the same for a couple of days. If you really want to make sure that your home is protected then it might be worth investing in motion sensor lights which as the name says light up when someone steps in the proximity of the lights. Many people use these either on their back door or the front door as burglars may be startled if they're suddenly highlighted for the surrounding neighbours to see what they're trying to do. Investing in CCTV cameras is another good idea, both a deterrent for burglars as well as being useful as evidence if your home is burgled as it would provide a clear views of who broke into your home as well as what they made off with. A clever investment would be buying lights which can be controlled from your phone or tablet, this meaning you could adjust the lights in your house depending on the time of day. For example, you might turn on the kitchen light in the morning and the light in the living room in the evening but at night all lights would be turned off. This gives the impression that people are in the house constantly hence the lights being on.
Place a Hold on Newspapers & Mail Deliveries
Not only does an overflowing mailbox signify that no one is home, it also allows people to reach in and take your mail. This mail may include personal information and allow people to view your bank statements, if someone stole mine then they're more than welcome to see how much I spent on food last month. Even when I have been home some delivery services have left items in pots outside of my house meaning anyone would be welcome to take it. If you have deliveries coming then make sure to use the option of delivering to a neighbour or stating that you'd pick it up from the depot when you return. Royal Mail currently offer a Keepsafe service which means Royal Mail will keep your mail and then return it when you're back. Prices range depending on the amount of days you're away, the shortest being 10 days and the longest being 100. This option would be more efficient when used for a longer holiday, if you're travelling for 5 days then it would leave you without mail for another 5 days after you have come back.
Don't Leave Valuables in Sight
A simple and easy way to prevent burglars from feeling tempted to burgle your particular home would be to hide your valuables. Even if someone did break in would they really spend the effort to search and search for a laptop or a tablet? It depends. I've heard stories of people being robbed of everything, even their kettle, which shows the pure desperation of some people. Regardless, a safe would be the safest option as you can store a lot of valuables such as jewellery and cash into something that is heavy and takes a lot to be broken into to. When I go abroad I try to put everything out of view and I put these valuables in places no one would think to look.
Look at What Your Home Insurance Covers
If you haven't got home insurance then I would strongly advice investing and purchasing it. Even though some people have purchased home insurance I can tell many people wouldn't know what their policy covers as well as being unsure of the procedure they would take if their home was broken into. Most policies cover the standard rate of protection which allows customers can claim for damaged or stolen goods such as furniture and electrical items. However, some insurance companies may not except claims for more expensive items such as jewellery and pieces of art. If you're unsure then either call up your insurance provider or read the small print and policy details that should've been provided to you when you took out the insurance. If you do come home and your home has been burgled then the first thing to do would be to call the police and report it and then within 24 hours you should put a claim in for your insurance provider. Even though you might be in shock over what has happened, it would be advisable to make sure you try and find receipts for what you've lost and take photographic evidence as some companies may require this.
Tips and tricks for all aspects of travelling, most of which include saving money.