22 home security tips for the holiday season

22 home security tips for the holiday season
22 home security tips for the holiday season

 Christmas is just around the corner. She is probably preparing to travel by the river and through the forest to exchange gifts and spend time with her loved ones.

As you prepare to celebrate, there's one thing that should be at the top of your double-check list: figuring out how to protect your home from bah-humbug burglars who want to steal more than your holiday cheer.

Think back to 1990 and the classic Christmas movie Home Alone (yes, we think the fact that it came out over 30 years ago is scary too). We're not saying you need to tar the steps, heat the doorknobs, put Michael Jordan cutouts on the windows, and release the tarantula.

You don't have to be a home security expert (or a spirited 8-year-old) to protect your belongings. Here are some ways to protect your home, family, and memories while you're out of town.

1. Get to know your neighbors (especially nosy ones).

Okay, so we know some neighbors are quirky and some can be annoying, especially when they blow leaves and grass all over your driveway (what's that?). But there has to be a neighbor you can ask to take care of the deliveries, the newspapers and the trash can.

Remember old Marley in Home Alone? He scared Kevin McCallister at the beginning of the movie, but by the end they were friends. So he musters up the courage (and cookies) and asks a neighbor for help.

2. Find out about neighborhood watch in your area.

No neighborhood wants to become that neighborhood, the one that everyone claims to avoid due to constant robberies. That's why it's a good idea to check with your local neighborhood watch program to help keep your home safe.

Did you know that Facebook hosts a national Neighborhood Watch page that is a division of the National Sheriffs Association? Check it to see if your area has a group (which could be very useful while you're away). You can also contact the homeowners association in your community. Or if you're really passionate about it, maybe you could be the hero and start a neighborhood watch where you live.

3. Get packages shipped to your workplace.

 & Or at least track them & so you can tell your friendly neighbor when to pick them up. That way, they won't pile up on your porch and announce to the world that you're not home—a dead giveaway to all those would-be porch pirates.

4. Clear snow from your driveway.

If a couple of thieves are surveying your neighborhood from their truck and see that your driveway hasn't been shoveled (when everyone else has done theirs), they might think you're far away.

Give a neighbor's kid a chance to earn a commission (or give your Old Man Marley something to do) shoveling your driveway while you're gone. And maybe give them a little extra if they build an awesome snowman. Nothing says "We're home for the holidays!" like a cool snowman in the front yard. Now that it's festive and effective

5. If you live in an apartment, get to know the administration and maintenance staff.

Not only will you recognize apartment staff if you knock on the door (and can disable burglar traps if you have them), but they're also more likely to remember you (and help you) if you need them. Plus, it's Christmas, so why not bake some cookies to show them some holiday cheer?

And while we're on the subject of apartment living. . . If you live in a ground-floor apartment, double check that windows and porch doors are locked and curtains are drawn.

6. Don't display expensive items.

We understand. There's nothing like seeing the Christmas tree sparkling in the living room. But those big boxed presents around him? That's like the thief's version of window shopping. Move those gifts out of sight to fool people who are sneaking up and looking for easy prey.

7. Make it sound like someone is home.

Timers on interior lights? Check. Timers on exterior lights? Check!

Lights are the obvious things to remember here, but also think about sound. Try setting up a clock radio or iPad near your front door and timing it to play music throughout the day. And if your TV can be viewed from outside, connect it to your smartphone so you can turn it on while you're away.

8. Change your spare key stashes.

It helps to have a spare key outside in case you get stuck. But how easy is it to find it?

Try to think of obvious places a thief would look. Is it under the flower pot or above the door frame? Too easy. But buried under the third bush from the right? Now that's better. Inside a fake brick in the front wall of his house? Now you're talking! Get creative if you have a key outside.

9. Take an inventory of spare keys.

It is true. We've all become overly obsessed with those automated key-cutting kiosks at the store, but now everyone from Aunt Leslie to Uncle Frank has a key to your house. And Aunt Leslie may not have the best memory when it comes to where she leaves things (and who can trust Uncle Frank, anyway?).

Take a moment to write down who has a spare key and who really needs it, and then make sure everyone is accounted for.

10. Put combination locks on your shed and fence in the backyard.

This one is simple: if your garden shed houses expensive tools and equipment, you need a lock on the door. The same goes for your backyard fence. Remember, you want to make it harder for a burglar to break into your home, not easier.

11. Make sure your garage is closed.

Please raise your hand if you don't lock the door to your garage when you leave. It's easy to forget! What if you leave your garage door opener inside your car? . . while parked in the driveway for days on end? Guilty as charged.

You should always make sure you bring your garage door openers inside, otherwise you are inviting burglars in without the need for prying.

12. Trim overgrown trees and shrubs so there is less cover for thieves.

Trees can give you all kinds of privacy,& that's great for you. But it's also great for burglars who want to hide from security lights or the watchful eyes of neighbors.

13. Try to rob your own house.

This sounds crazy, but hear us out! Remember when we talked about being creative when hiding your spare key? Well, use that creativity again and spend some time trying to break into your own home. You want to find yourself saying things like, "Dadgum's fence is closed!" or “Oh, the windows are closed too” or “I see a light and I can hear a TV: someone is home!”& If you're thinking about it, chances are an annoying thief will, too, & give up.

14.& Don't share too much on social media.

It's never a good idea to share too much on Facebook, but it's a really bad idea to announce your travel plans to everyone. Tech-savvy crooks will look at your posts and see potential dollar signs. It would be like Kevin posting on Instagram that he was home alone. Do you think it is a good idea? We don't think so.

If you're dying to post a selfie of your feet submerged in the clear blue ocean, wait until you get home. Still, you'll enjoy your free time more if you're not constantly tied to your phone.

Want more tips on how to prepare for travel? & Take a look at our Ultimate Travel Checklist.

15. Do you have a family password?

To keep your kids safe during times when they're home alone, set a family password. This is a word or phrase that only you and your children know (and you can share it with family and close friends as needed). It is meant to keep out strangers who might knock and try to get into your home.

16. Don't hide cash under your mattress.

Or in the freezer. Or in the cookie jar. Or in the millions of other places cash-hungry criminals look when they walk in on a joint. Store your cash in a safe or, better yet, in a bank.

17. Shred documents you don't need.

Why? Because it's not just the obvious things like electronics or jewelry that a thief will steal. Any mail or personal records that show your Social Security number, driver's license number, and date of birth are high prey for identity thieves.

These idiots are not above trash-diving for valuable information about you and your family. So be sure to shred anything you throw away that could be considered important information. When in doubt, shred!

18. Lock your safe.

If you have a safe somewhere in your home, make sure it's locked with those important documents (like birth certificates) and family heirlooms tucked away before you travel. Oh, and make sure you screw that sucker down so they don't take it away.

19. Take pictures of all your valuables.

This is an old insurance trick. Take quick photos of your jewelry, artwork, tools, electronics, furniture, or anything else that might tempt a thief. This will help you determine if anything was stolen if someone breaks in, but it will also help the insurance company process your claim.

20. Get referrals from professionals in any service.

Make sure the housekeeper, gardener, plumber, or HVAC guy is the real deal before you call them to take care of anything around your home. The only person who visits your house without a referral should be Santa. . . or maybe the guy from Little Nero's Pizza.

Just watch out for those creepy little goblins sitting on the shelves; we hear they can go almost anywhere.

21. Be aware of what you are throwing away.

Imagine the scene: the presents have been unwrapped, the gadgets and gadgets are ready to be played with, but the living room looks like the aftermath of a Christmas war. You're tempted to pile boxes and crates on the sidewalk just to get your living room back.

Stop! You don't want to advertise those awesome giveaways to shady characters circling the block looking for their next score, do you?

Of course not. Break the boxes into smaller pieces and put them in recycling or trash bags. Then wait to take those bags out on garbage collection day. Or you could even take a trip to the recycling center yourself.

22. Install a home security system.

If you had to pick just one for your best line of defense, it would be a home security system. With a home security system, your castle is kept safe 24 hours a day by trained professionals who can help when you need it. Also, a home security system can save you some money on your home insurance premium, and our goal is to save money.

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