Don't be an easy mark for grinches and thieves who target homes during the holidays. Whether you’re going to be away from home for a couple hours or a couple weeks, here’s how to protect your home from holiday thieves. Your season will be a whole lot merrier if you don’t have to file a homeowners insurance claim.
- Don’t social-ize your plans. Seriously, do not tell all your online friends and fans about your itinerary. Save it till you’re safely back home. The bad guys scour social media looking for people dumb enough to say they’re out of town till New Year’s.
- Don’t display the goodies. Yes, your tree with all the gifts looks beautiful in your living room window. But it’s also a thief-magnet. Keep the curtains drawn when you’re away.
- Stash the trash. Don’t put the packaging for high-ticket items on display, either. Wait till the trash man is almost there before you carry them to the curb.
- Look alive. Give the impression that you’re there when you’re not. Invest in inexpensive timers to turn lights, radio and TV on at random. Or, use a cell-phone-activated security program that does the same thing remotely.
- Tell the world you have a security system. Put the sign in your yard and the stickers on your windows. The thieves will be more likely to go elsewhere. While you’re away, let your security company and a trusted neighbor in on your plans.
- Keep up appearances. Arrange to have snow shoveled. Suspend mail and newspaper delivery. Ask that trusted neighbor to retrieve any packages delivered in your absence.
- Retrieve your voice mail. If you still have a landline, don’t advertise your absence on the answering machine and don’t let the voice mail pile up.
Before you head out, check your insurance policy to see exactly what losses from theft it covers and how much. You can learn more about homeowners and renters insurance and shop for those policies online.