It starts with Facebook! Facebook and Twitter are a burglar’s best friend! Think about it. We “check in” at the resort — and everyone knows. While it’s fun to let friends know what’s going on — maybe even make them “wish they were there” — sharing these juicy tidbits sets your home up to be burgled. The trade-off might not be worth it.
According to Allstate, 40% of Facebook users post their vacation plans online, and everyone who can see those posts knows their plans. According to Urbach, most burglaries are the result of convenience: teenage males who happen to know someone’s away will break in to grab a few things: quickly in, quickly out, never caught. “Advertise” to friends and family that you’re leaving town, and you’re advertising that same information to the bored teen with nothing better to do than swipe your laptop and make a few bucks.
To protect your home, start with Allstate’s recommendations and adjust your social network privacy settings:
- On Facebook, click “home” -> “privacy settings.” Make sure you ONLY share information with your “friend” list. That means, don’t share with everyone using the public setting, or “the whole world will know!”
- Read and understand “how tags work” and adjust it so that only your closest friends or family can see your tags. You can also limit how long they appear on Facebook, offering more safety.
- Create a “private group.” Likewise, on Google + you can create a close friends circle and share your vacation stories and photos just with the best of the best, your BFFs!
- Likewise, with foursquare and Twitter, think twice before you share your location. Every time you do, you’re sharing your public location with the world. And once that information’s out there, you can’t get it back!
Besides eliminating social network advertising, you can eliminate “visual” advertising that you’re gone, too.
- Hold your mail. Yes, you can ask a neighbor to pick it up for you, but what happens when they forget and the mail sits in the box a couple of days? Instead, go to the post office website and have them hold your mail for you. Designate when you want delivery to resume and all your mail will arrive safe and sound.
- Suspend your newspaper subscription. This saves you money, too, because whenever you suspend your subscription, those days get tacked on to the end of the original contract period.
- Ask a neighbor for help. Think about what you normally do, and ask a friend to help you make it look like you’re home and be willing to reciprocate. When we traveled to Paris recently, friends “used” our driveway to park their work truck over the weekends. Another friend sent her kids to our house to play basketball after school. Vacationing in winter? Make sure someone messes up that snowy driveway with some tire tracks!
- Set lights on timers. Spend a couple extra dollars and get the timers that randomly adjust the time they trigger by a few minutes.
Other safety tips that help, whether you’re home or away, include:
- Use deadbolts to secure doors, even in the garage. Deadbolt locks are harder to pick, meaning burglars will look elsewhere for an easy target.
- Install motion detector lights at the corners of your house. Light is the burglar’s enemy!
- Lock ladders and other stackable items in a garage or shed so that burglars can’t access second story windows.
- Keep your valuables anywhere but the master bedroom, home office, den, family room, living room or dining room. If the burglar can’t find things quickly, he will leave!
For more suggestions, read Detective Kevin Coffey’s informative article on burglar-proofing your home.
Take just a few steps before you travel to prepare your home and vacation worry-free! Of course, nothing guarantees that your home won’t be chosen, but these steps will greatly reduce the chances that the opportunistic burglar will choose you.
Happy, safe travels!