If, like many South Africans, you're planning a vacation, you might want to think about how you're going to protect your home while you're away. An empty house can be a burglar magnet, so burglar proofing your home is essential. In 2012-2013 there were 262,113 burglaries in South Africa, which amounts to a staggering 720 home invasions each day. So before you go on holiday, read our top ten tips for preventing burglary. From alarm systems to common sense, here's everything that you need to know.
1. Home Security Means Not Leaving Signs that You're Gone
One of the easiest things that you can do is to make sure that your property looks lived in. Home alarm systems aside, many burglaries are unplanned, and a house that looks empty is a prime target. That means making sure you cancel the newspaper deliveries and mail (or arrange for someone to pick the mail up for you), and if you're gone for a longer period making sure that the grass is cut.
2. Alarm Systems and Advertising
Of course, home security systems can prevent burglaries, but something that many people don't consider is advertising that their home is protected. Having an alarm system can mean that a break in is attempted and then stopped when the alarm goes off. On the other hand, having prominent signs on your property that state that alarm systems are in use can mean that the burglary is never attempted in the first place…
3. Burglar Proofing with Lights
When you go on vacation should you leave the lights on or off? The curtains open or closed? Why not both? There are many cheap and easy to use timer devices that will both turn lights on and off and open and close curtains. Installing these will mean that it always looks like someone is home, even while you're busy lying on the beach.
4. A Friend is the Best Alarm System
Getting someone to check on your property is an excellent way to protect your home. If you've got willing neighbours or friends, having someone drop by once a day can be a cheap and simple way of making sure that everything is going well at home. A friend can pick up the mail, turn lights on, open curtains and generally make sure that all is okay, as well as letting you know if there are any problems.
5. Watch Out for Social Media
An increasingly common way for burglars to target properties is through social media. You might not have considered that what you post on Facebook or Twitter might end up getting your house broken into, but it can. Thieves watch out for vacation posts, then use the internet to search the address that matches your name. They then break in knowing that your home is empty. The lesson? Don't post your vacation photos or stories until you get home!
6. Move the Spare Key!
It sounds like common sense, but if you've got a spare key lurking around, maybe under a flower pot or a rock, then move it. You'd be surprised how many burglars simply unlock the door and let themselves in rather than having to break in…
7. Tell the Police
Depending on where you live your local police department may do periodic drive bys if they know you're on holiday (though this isn't true in all areas). Plus, if you've installed alarm systems that communicate directly with the police then officers will know to respond quickly if the alarm goes off while you're on vacation.
8. Home Security Begins in the Garage
If there's a garage attached to your home then you'll need to check all connecting doors to make sure that thieves can't come into the house (most main garage doors are easy to open and tough to protect). And if you've got an automatic garage door opener make sure that you don't leave it inside a vehicle that's parked outside (that's just an invitation to burglars).
9. Alarm Systems Don't Work When They're Off!
Again, this might seem like common sense, but your home security system won't work unless you arm it when leaving the house. A surprising number of break ins happen simply because an alarm wasn't switched on…
10. Remove Your Valuables
Finally, there's no way that you can completely eliminate the risk of your home being broken into, so you might want to think about removing especially valuable objects (as well as any cash) to a safe place. You can get a safety deposit box at your local bank, or ask a friend or relative to take care of items for you.
Going on vacation is awesome, but coming back to a robbed house isn't. It's important that you do all you can to protect your property while you're gone. However, there's always a chance that the worst will happen, so a good home contents insurance policy is key too. Follow our tips, and have peace of mind that your home is safe while you're away.
Main subject: alarm systems