Going on holiday should be a fun, relaxing time, but no one could blame you for stressing over the security of your family home while away. More and more families are turning to smart home security systems to keep their homes safe, with 80 million devices being shipped last year, and an annual spend of $20,640,000,000 on home alarm systems.
Every home should have traditional security measures put in place at the very least; 60 per cent of burglars tend to avoid homes with a security system installed, and many of the kinks that have started to affect digital home assistants are yet to be comprehensively fixed. For example, having a smart security system in place could be useful for keeping a close eye on your property, but Which? found that hackers can quickly and easily gain access to a home network within a matter of days.
But there are things you can do to feel more at ease and keep your home safe while on holiday.
Invest in short term property protection
Check with your burglar alarm provider to see whether they also offer short term property protection for homeowners while on holiday. Some offer pre-arranged home security patrols,visiting your home at a routine timeor day, to ensure your property is safe and secure. These keyholding and alarm response services can ensure that your property is kept secure for the duration of your holiday.
Mobile patrol services provide a temporary security precaution for homeowners who may be unable to ask anyone else to keep an eye on their property while they’re away. Some mobile patrol services even offer pre-arranged visits to your property, for added peace of mind.
Install a home security system
Installing a CCTV camera could be enough to prevent your home from being a target, according to a checklist compiled for the police by thief Leon Reid. The burglar created the note for police before being jailed, revealing that pebbled patios, dog warning signs, and alarms will all deter burglars from targeting homes.
A more recent study by Co-Op Insurance also found that CCTV cameras are the most effective deterrents for both home burglaries and car theft. According to a panel of 12 former criminals, most thieves are opportunists wandering the streets, who would avoid difficult break-ins that were likely to draw attention. They also pointed out that loud barking dogs, strong heavy doors, switched on TV’s and locked UPVC windows will also put off burglars from breaking into a home.
Create the impression you’re still at home
As well as ensuring that your valuables are all safely out of sight before you leave, be sure to take some time to make sure that, to passers-by, it looks like you’re still at home during your holiday. There are a few little things you can do to make it look like your home routine has gone unchanged, for example:
- Leaving your curtains/blinds open — it’s far more suspicious to have your curtains closed during daylight than for them to remain open at night.
- Install timers on a few lights around the house — stay away from having all the lights on, instead pick a hallway light and maybe another room near the front of the house, and have them turn on automatically when it gets dark during the evenings.
- Rather than have your mail build up in front of your door, use Royal Mail’s Keepsafe service. A mounting pile of post can be a big giveaway that a house is unoccupied, so consider having Royal Mail keep hold of it until you come back from your holiday.
Ask a neighbour you trust to park in your drive
Research from YouGov found that 65 per cent of Britons would not describe their neighbours as ‘good friends’, which is particularly shocking when you consider how you could help each other out when you’re away on holiday. If you’re driving to the airport, you could ask your neighbour to park in your driveway to give the illusion that you’re still at home.
Your neighbour could also help out by checking in on your house every so often, to collect the mail, or turn the lights on and off if you don’t have a timer.
Save posting pictures on social media until you get back
By posting about being on holiday on social media, particularly if your account’s privacy settings are unchecked, you are making it obvious to anyone that you’re not in the country, at a time when your home is empty and vulnerable. If you are going to post online, wherever you are in the world, make sure your location services are turned off. Otherwise, potential criminals could build up a profile of your whereabouts, and know to target your property once you have left it.
According to Confused.com, social media posts about being on holiday can even invalidate some home insurance policies. This means that, should the worst happen and you fall victim to a burglary while you’re away, you wouldn’t be covered by your insurance if you had previously shared your details online. Insurers view this behaviour as “reckless”, as most policies state you must take “reasonable care” in securing your home and its possessions. In the digital age, you can never be too careful.