You go on vacation to enjoy yourself, taking a week or more respite from your every day concerns. While you’re away, you hope that your home stays secured, but without taking certain extra precautions you may return to house that has been ransacked. Here’s what you can do to decrease the odds that your home will become a thief target.

1. Keep your information quiet. Social media has made it possible for thieves to discover what you’re up to and where you’re going. Some people like to inform the world of their comings and goings, logging that information on Foursquare, posting a tweet to Twitter or sharing an update on Facebook. Even if you think that your network is secure, don’t count on it — thieves can break in courtesy of too much information you carelessly shared online.

2. Enlist a friend’s help. Before you leave, ask a friend to keep an eye on your home. This person might stop by daily, take your mail, check the doors, walk around your property, water your plants, and place garbage and recyclables at curb side. If that’s too much work for one person, split these tasks among two trusted friends — the operative word, trusted, is to be used of course.

3. Keep lawn care coming. If you cut your own lawn, you’ll want to have someone else do the job for you while you are away. Hire an individual to cut your grass, rake leaves, pick up branches and tend the garden for you. This person can also remove grass clippings, place them at the curb or set aside for later composting.

4. Unplug and activate lights. For extended times away from home you should unplug your sensitive electronics and appliances. A power surge can fry the lines, ruining your computer, dishwasher or other appliance. At the same time, put your lights on timers to activate at various times of the evening and in the early morning hours. You should also have security lights in place, what will turn on as soon as motion has been detected.

5. Use a security system. Homes without a security system are prime targets for thieves. Even homes with security systems are useless if you leave your home without activating same. You should notify your local police department when you plan to be away. The police may step up patrolling in your area and have a current contact number to call in the event you need to be reached. Consider giving a neighbor’s phone number to the police too.

6. Check your heating and air-conditioning. Leaving home when weather extremes are possible can also make your house vulnerable. If you have a climate control system, set the temperature to no lower than 60 degrees in the winter and no higher than 78 degrees in the summer. The lower setting will prevent burst pipes; the higher setting will keep mildew at bay.

Vacation Walk Through

Before you leave on vacation, complete a walk through of your home. All windows and doors should be locked, the garage door and shed secured, and if you own a pool the gate should be secured as well. Test your smoke detectors, forward your home phone to your cell phone, and replace the bulbs for lights that will automatically turn on and off. Lastly, do a walk around of the exterior of your home, ensuring that faucets are turned off, lawn furniture put away and your spare key removed from its hiding place.

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