Home security while on holiday

Is it obvious You're on Holiday?
Clearly a good security system can make all the difference when it comes to going on holiday and leaving your home to the elements and the less the social person who decides your house is on his list to break in to.
But, although this is true, there is also a lot we can do to help deter and prevent a would be burglar from picking our home.




Today’s online social world:
Social Media – be careful what you say about holidays online. If you say anything make sure its private and ask friends and family not to publicise your going on holiday or that you’re on holiday whilst your away.

Consider the weather whilst you’re away:
You’ll generally know from experience what possible problems can occur around your home, from flooding, roof leak in sheds and garages, wind issues etc. Consider, we live in an era of freak weather, so don’t be fooled by the time of year.
Some things you might want to check are:
  • Drainage which can be blocked by leaves or other debris
  • Shed and garages with windows that get forgotten about until it rains
  • Anything that the wind could get hold of and cause damage i.e. garden furniture or exterior decorations.
  • Do you need to leave the heating on, even if only very low to ensure no pipes become frozen. Pipes that don’t freeze because of the general warmth from the house keeps them from freezing, such as pipes in the roof space or close to external walls, may need consideration.
  • External taps – turn off the water to them inside and then let the remaining water out will prevent them from freezing up and then bursting as they thaw.
  • If you have plants that need watering or may need watering if the weather is a particular way – organise a friend or relative to come look after them.

Pets:
Cats, dogs and other animals – consider if they need specialist looking after or if a friend or family member is able to help. If there are special instructions for looking after your pet, ensure you’ve bought any special foods and left exact instructions on what to do.

Deliveries:
If you have any regular deliveries, remember to cancel them while away or to have them delivered elsewhere.
Post – don’t advertise the fact that you’re away with a pile of mail by the post box. Either ask a friend or neighbour to come in and pick it up or contact the royal mail http://www.royalmail.com/personal/receiving-mail/keepsafe and ask them to keep the mail for you until you return. There is a small fee, but this is all covered on the webpage.

Creating the illusion there’s someone home:
  • Use timers to switch lights on and off as well and radio – today’s TV’s will only come onto standby mode, but if you have an older TV you may be able to have this come on as well.
  • Ask a neighbour to put out the bins on bin day, even if only to put some of their bin bags where your bin bags would normally go.
  • Ask a friend or relative to cut the grass if it’s generally cut weekly
  • If your car is normally parked in the drive and you’re taking your car, ask a neighbour or friend if they can leave their car in your driveway for some or all of the time or at least park outside your house.
  • If your car is normally parked in the garage make sure windows are covered or have frosted effect (you can buy frosted effect sticky film). This will stop someone looking in a seeing the cars not there.
  • Don’t close the curtains, because this promotes the fact you’re away during the daytime and today a large number of burglaries are committed in daylight hours.


What’s on show?
Take a walk around the property and look at what you can see when you look inside. Make sure no keys, mobiles, tablets, computers, jewellery or any easily moveable item of value is on show. Consider night time and what could be seen with a torch.
Don’t leave valuables such as jewellery in the bedroom. Ideally place them in a safe which is bolted to the floor/wall. If you don’t have a safe, hide them in less obvious areas such as kitchen, bathroom or somewhere that’s messy, such as a play room or child’s room.
Consider leaving something for them to find in the bedroom such as some costume jewellery and a small amount of money
Don’t hide everything in the same place.
If you have left instructions out for someone who comes in whilst your away, don’t leave them within easy view as this can be another indicator that your away.

Windows and doors:
Check all the window locks are properly working and that they are all closed and locked when you leave. Don’t leave the key in the back door and don’t leave the key in a visible place.
Sliding patio door – a good trick here is to cut a length of wood and place it between the fixed upright and the sliding door upright so that even if they break the lock they won’t be able to slide the door open, because it’s held in place by the wood.
Let a trusted neighbour know the dates your away and ask them to look out for any suspicious activity.
Don’t forget the sheds and garage.

Other risks:
Electrical – make sure everything is turned off (at the socket) that’s not going to be run on a timer for the illusion that you home purposes. Remember the electric shower if you have one.
Make sure all taps are fully turned off – a dripping tap left for 1 or 2 weeks will be on its way to needing repair, by the time you return.
If you are going away in winter and you have an outside tap, shut the water off to the tap and let out any water.

Ensure any shrubs, bushes or trees are cut well back so that they are not easily used to hide behind while they gain access to your property.

Insurance:
Ensure it’s up to date and that there are no hidden exclusions such as being away for a certain number of days or not covering having a house sitter if this was a route you went down to look after pets or some other aspect of the property such as the garden.
Travel insurance and medical insurance – make sure you have the required level needed if you’re going abroad. Make sure you know what happens if you have a problem abroad in the country you’re visiting.
If you’re driving clarify exactly what’s covered and who is covered if you are looking at sharing the driving or if you have an accident or if the car is stolen.

Security System:
A good alarm system will make a difference, especially if it's a CCTV or a system connected to your mobile device. If you have an alarm system make sure it's been regularly serviced and is working properly before you leave. Give any details about your alarm system to a trusted neighbour or family member, in case of a problem.

Burglary Prevention - The 4 D Sequence

Coming home to a ‘break in’ is not the ideal way to end a day or evening out, but what is clear from Government statistics is that you are much less likely to be burgled if you have good security in place. Below are 4 areas to consider when thinking about security of your home.



Deter:

A large number of burglaries in the UK are opportunistic, which means that if you make it clear there is security in place, you reduce the likely hood they will choose your property. Good external lighting will deter them at night and making sure you've locked all the windows and doors will also help. If you are out leaving a light on or having a light on a timer can also help create the illusion of someone being at home.

Deny:

The obvious one is the alarm but making sure that any back gates have quality padlocks, windows are not just shut, but have locking systems installed, garages and sheds also have quality locks and security lighting illuminates any access points.

Detect:

This can occur at different points in the process from when they first start casing the property, to when they have gained entry into the property. Sensors that monitor movement and/or heat (infra red), which then trigger an alarm or send an alert to a security company or mobile phone should all be part of the alarm system. In today’s world CCTV should ideally be included as part of the system as this will also work as a deterrent. Being part of a neighbourhood watch program can also help.

Delay:

Once they’re inside, don’t make it easy for them to find your valuables, have a safe properly installed, don’t leave items such as mobile devices, purses or cash in easy view and don’t leave car keys in clear view. The longer it takes for them to find what they’re looking for the longer you have for the response aspect to work.


The trouble with burglary is that if it hasn't happened to you the tendency is to think it won’t happen to us and to become complacent about some of the basic security measures we can take. So why not take a look at what you do regarding the above points and consider how you could improve your home security.