It’s common knowledge that leaving your house for a trip increases the odds of it being targeted for burglary. But what most homeowners don’t know is they unwittingly increase the likelihood of their homes being targeted by engaging in certain behaviors before their trips and neglecting to take steps to dissuade thieves on the lookout for an easy target. Here is a short list of steps you can take to help prevent your home from being robbed while you are away.

Social Media Blackout

Do not announce on any social media sites you are going away. Sure, it is exciting to be getting ready for that long anticipated week at the beach, but keep it under wraps until you get back. Many home burglaries are committed by people the homeowners know. Sometimes it may be a neighbor, relative of a neighbor, family member, or acquaintance. Try not to post pics or status updates during the vacation. Save it for when you return. Not announcing vacation plans to coworkers and neighbors is also a good idea. You do not know how far the information will travel. Only advise a trusted friend, neighbor, or family member of trip details.

Make Plans to Maintain a Lived-In Look While Away

Nothing speaks to potential burglars more than newspapers gathering on the front porch and mail overflowing in the mailbox. Un-swept sidewalks, tall grass, or un-shoveled snow are also clues. Arrange for a trusted person to either pick up the mail and packages, or have items held until you return. Contact the post office to hold the mail and redirect any expected deliveries before you leave and call the newspaper to have them hold delivery. Ask your trusted friend to sweep away leaves, cut your grass, or shovel snow while you are gone.

Securing the Home

If you have automatic garage openers, shut them off until your return. A garage door company like Perimeter Security Systems, can also prevent doors from being lifted by installing a locking mechanism. Be sure to lock all exterior doors and windows before leaving, and close all interior doors as well. Put any valuable outdoor items such as grills or lawn furniture away before leaving. Buy a couple of automatic light timers to turn lamps off and on at different times and make it look like someone is home. Before leaving, put high dollar value and irreplaceable items such as jewelry, coin collections, and documents in a bank safe deposit box to keep them from being taken in a worst case scenario.

Before leaving, walk around your house, inside and out, thinking like a thief, and looking for an easy way inside. Look for valuables that can be easily carried out and converted into quick cash and make your house a hard target. Close the drapes before you leave to prevent prying eyes from seeing what there is to steal. Check all outdoor motion sensor lights to make sure they are working. If you live in a neighborhood regularly patrolled by police, let them know your plans and ask if they could keep an eye out. Just making them aware increases their vigilance when they drive by your home.