Vacation Tips: 5 Things To Do Before Leaving Town

(Making sure you're fully prepared)

Burglar leaving home through window

Summer is quickly approaching and millions of Americans will be taking vacations to their favorite destinations. From family road trips to the beach to boarding international flights headed for breathtaking destinations, vacationing during the summer is something almost everyone looks forward to. 

Before leaving for your vacation, however, there are some tips for protecting your home and belongings from theft or burglary while you are away. Burglars sometimes take advantage of empty homes to steal valuable property. The Press Democrat reported that burglars targeted homes in Sonoma County, California simply because there was an abundance of vacant homes. 

Many local homes were ransacked for valuables such as expensive electronics, televisions and jewelry. So here are some easy and helpful tips to remember before you take your next vacation so that you can enjoy your time away with peace of mind.

Place a Hold on Your Mail

Few things scream, "I'm out of town" more than an overflowing mailbox and rolls of uncollected newspapers on your sidewalk. In addition to conveying to potential burglars that you're out of town, your mailbox is a prime location to reveal important information and data about your finances to identity thieves. 

In fact, many identity thefts begin with stealing mail—especially financial statements and checks. According to ABC News, as many as 400,000 Americans have been victimized by identity theft due to stolen mail. With visible signs that a home is unoccupied for a period of time, a full mailbox may be a target for more than just traditional burglary. 

When leaving town, visit your nearest post office to place a hold on your mail. This means that your post office will keep your mail on-site in a safe location. To prevent identity theft, consider purchasing a locking mailbox that can only be opened by a key.

Ask a Neighbor to Check on Your Home

Another simple method for gaining peace of mind while you are away is to ask a neighbor or friend to check on your home periodically. Not only can theyvisually check for signs of burglary or damage, you can also have them water plants or take care of pets. 

Encourage your neighbor or friend to visit your home at different times to increase the likelihood that they will be seen by others. Their presence can deter a criminal from taking advantage of a vacant home.

Consider Using an Alarm System

Today, many alarm systems offer remote surveillance via the Web or smart phones. Some systems allow you to arm and disarm your alarm from your phone—even if you are far away. You can disarm the system with your smart phone if a friend is coming by to check on your home and quickly rearm it after the friend has left. 

Knowing that your home is equipped with an alarm system will not only create a sense of safety, it will also alert the authorities in your area if someone enters your house without permission. An additional benefit to having an alarm system is the fact that many insurance companies offer discounts on renters and homeowners insurance for residences equipped with security systems. 

If you want to explore the advantages of discounts on a homeowners or renters insurance policy, talk with an independent agent to help you review your options.

Avoid Announcing Details of Your Trip to Strangers

While social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are fun ways to stay in touch with friends, colleagues and family, discussing personal details or announcing an upcoming vacation can spell trouble for keeping your home safe and protected from criminal activity. 

If your privacy settings are public or if you have hundreds of connections and followers on social media accounts, discussing the details of your upcoming vacation could entice someone with malicious intentions to vandalize your home or steal your property. Avoid mentioning the exact location and dates of your travel. Instead, USA Today recommends sharing pictures and the details of your vacation with your acquaintances on social media after you have returned home.

Use Lighting to Make It Appear that Your Home Is Occupied

Another simple tip for deterring property damage and theft while your home is unoccupied is to use lighting to make it appear as if someone is home. For example, leaving a light on in your living room or hallway along with keeping a porch light on can help deter criminals. 

Another tip for making your home appear occupied is to ask the person checking on your home to turn on a light in a different room every couple of days just before dark. If you are concerned about energy usage, consider using timers to turn lights off during daylight hours. For added security, you can also ask a friend or neighbor to turn on a television at night while you are away.

For additional tips to prevent property theft or for guidance regarding home insurance coverage, contact an agent in your area.

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