How to protect your home when you’re on holiday

Intruders can lurk anywhere: big cities, the suburbs and in the countryside. There were 789,000 victim-reported break-ins in England in 2014, and the holiday season is increasingly a prime time for burglars to strike. Compounding this, there are shockingly low burglary detection rates and serious long-term psychological consequences for the victims.

Here are 10 top tips for securing your home and peace of mind when you’re on holiday:

  1. Before you head off on vacation, go through the apartment or house and check that all doors and windows are securely locked – check out the cellar and garage too.
  2. Around 40% of all attempted break-ins fail due to mechanical safeguards. If the offender is not in the house within 2-5 minutes, they set off the alarm. Special burglar-proofed locks protect against forced openings and boring because they can withstand very high pressure. Any weaker doors should be strengthened with additional latches or hardware.
  3. Give the impression you’re at home, such as by having your lights on a timer. It makes sense to have a device through which you can switch the lights on and off randomly.
  4. Involve neighbours that you trust. Ask them to collect mail from your letterbox and keep a general eye on your house or apartment.
  5. Don’t have the shutters down or curtains drawn the whole time you’re away. If you do have them down, do as you would with lights – keep them on a timer so that they are open during the day.
  6. Increasingly your online presence can be an ingredient in a break-in. Beware of immediately posting your holiday photos publically on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. A holiday message on the answering machine is also not a good idea.
  7. You should keep valuables such as jewellery in a safe or somewhere else lockable. Make sure that you have photos of important property for insurance purposes, and keep these images, as well other documents and receipts, accessible outside the home.
  8. Make it as hard for intruders as possible. For example, don’t leave your car keys and the corresponding paperwork lying together in the apartment or house.
  9. Thieves will very happily and easily steal computers, laptops or tablets. For data protection purposes, you should keep your file backups on an external hard drive far away from your laptop, i.e. in the office or at your parents’ place.
  10. Having an active surveillance camera can also help. There are complete solutions that include an app, intelligent mini camera and video storage, via which you see into your home around the clock, as well as listen and speak into your living room. Smartfrog offers all this from £4.95 (€5.95) per month.