Whether you’re heading out for a holiday party or traveling across the country to visit relatives, burglars are on the prowl to find homes that are unoccupied. And what better time to cash in than when homes are full of unopened gifts?

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting site, there are approximately 2.5 million burglaries a year, which breaks down to a home-break in every 13 seconds. In 2015, property crimes led to a loss of $14.3 billion. Here are some ways to give would-be burglars the appearance of activity and keep them away from your house.

  1. Burglar Proof Basics: Make sure all doors and windows are locked, and in working order. Don’t forget about the garage windows and doors. Reinforce window and sliding glass door locks with metal rods or dowels placed in the track. Don’t hide the spare key in obvious spots, such as under the doormat. Invest in a home security system, and let the service know when you plan to be away. Stop mail and newspaper delivery for extended absences.
  1. Hide Your Valuables: Keep valuable items out of sight from anyone outside looking in. When searching for homes to target, burglars will look through trash containers for packaging for expensive items you have purchased.
  1. Keep It Lively: Timers to turn on lamps, TV, and radio are a great way to give the appearance of activity when you’re not around. Motion sensors around the exterior of your home, to automatically turn lights on when it senses movement around your property, is also a great deterrent.
  1. Be Smart About Who You Tell: Don’t update your social media status by telling the world you’re going out of town, and don’t change the message on your voicemail letting callers know you’re out. But do let your neighborhood watch group that you’ll be leaving.
  1. Be Wary of Door-to-Door Donation Seekers: Not everyone who shows up on your doorstep seeking donations for charities are reputable, some are criminals hoping to get a look inside your home. Use caution when opening the door to strangers, and do not let them inside your home.

Look around your property with these tips in mind to see if there are gaps in your home security, and be sure to fill them before heading out for holiday fun.

Also, don’t forget to contact your Cole Harrison agent to review your homeowner’s policy, and ensure your home is protected with the right insurance coverage.

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