The holiday decorations are up and many people are in a cheerful mood, but that doesn’t mean you should let home security slip your mind. The FBI reports that nearly 400,000 burglaries occur between November and December each year in the United States, so you need to stay vigilant. The good news is that prevention is easy.
The National Crime Prevention Council, MoneyPit and Security-Port offer simple solutions to help keep you and yours safe during the holiday season. Whether you plan on spending the holidays across the country with loved ones or in the comfort of your own home, follow these holiday safety tips to double down on home protection.
Best practices for holiday home security
According to a report by the FBI, there were an estimated 1,579,527 burglaries across the United States in 2015. Here are some dos and don’ts that will help keep your home out of harm’s way.
Do check your entryways
Right before your big holiday vacation is the perfect time to reinforce doors, windows and other entryways into your home. When entering homes, burglars look for weak spots in doors and windows. Even if all your portals are locked they may still be easy entry points if they aren’t properly reinforced. If any doors or windows have cracks or damage, be sure to replace them with newer, more secure models.
Don’t display gifts or boxes
Many people display their Christmas trees and gifts in windows. However, it’s a good idea to keep presents and other valuables hidden from public view. Not only does displaying gifts let burglars know that your home has plenty of items to steal, but it also tempts them to break in by smashing windows, which can cause even more of a headache for you as a homeowner.
Also, be cautious of where you dump the boxes to new gifts like TVs, computers and other high-demand technology. That box to your brand-new 4K flat-screen, left sitting out on the curb, could be the only thing would-be thieves need to see to flag your home as a prime target.
If your family received gifts like bikes or toys that you would normally store outside, consider keeping them in your basement or garage for the duration of the holiday season.
Do ask a neighbor to keep watch
According to Crime Doctor, thieves look for certain telltale signs that homeowners are gone, like piles of newspapers and mail or outdoor lights that are on 24/7. Ask a neighbor to collect your mail while you’re away to divert attention from your empty household. They can also contact you in the event of a disturbance at your residence. You should also consider giving a spare key to your neighbor in case you leave on a light or appliance.
Don’t announce your vacation on social media
Additionally, don’t overtly advertise you’ll be out of town. Because you’re excited about traveling, it’s tempting to post details of your trip to social media, but try to keep these pictures and updates to a minimum. Even your seemingly private accounts may be accessible to burglars looking for their next targets.
Do incorporate smart home technology
A steady decline in the burglary rate throughout the years can largely be attributed to the rise of smart technology and all the ways these devices can be easily added to most home security systems. Take a look at some smart home devices that will take your home protection from good to great.
- Smart locks: Use access codes (keypads), proximity detectors (key fobs) or smartphone-enabled controls (an app paired with Bluetooth) to digitally secure your front door
- Video camera doorbells: Doorbells featuring embedded video cameras to mount at any entrance
- Security cameras: Record security breaches (once activated by a motion sensor) either inside or outside your property with devices available in wireless and wired configurations
- Motion sensors: Active or passive sensors measure changes in the environment and will trigger when motion is detected
- Smart lighting: Program your system with its associated app and turn lights off or on from anywhere
- Smart home hub: Sync all your smart home devices and manage your entire home security system from one central unit
Don’t leave decorative lights burning
Some people run their outdoor Christmas lights through windows or doors so they can connect to indoor outlets. This technique might allow you to create a spectacular lights display, but it also means you’re creating gaps in your entry points that burglars can use.
Letting internal and external decorations burn while you’re away could also result in a fire if you’re not careful. Christmas trees especially have been known to result in home fires.
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Originally published 12/20/11. Last updated 09/03/19.