Some of us just cannot wait for the holidays and the excitement that comes along with these few crazy weeks: the festive parties, family you haven’t seen in years, and let’s not forget the food. The joyful feeling and comfort food might just help you put your guard down.
Though you may look at this time of year as a time to enjoy what you’ve worked for all year, there are others who see this time of year as an opportunity. An opportunity to easily steal your belongings.
Oh, those long lines at the mall may be a headache for you, but a burglar will be happy to have those extra few minutes to make a clean getaway after cleaning you out. So you might want to think twice about that social media post, telling everyone that you hate holiday lines or traffic or posting what a great deal you got on a new flat screen tv. Remember, not everyone following you is a friend.
Don’t give thieves an annual bonus! This holiday season, outsmart those bandits by finding your homes weak spots and securing them to make your home safe. Fortunately for you, we have taken the time to gather security experts’ top tips to keep your home safe during the busy holiday season.
- Lock it up
Nowadays, common sense is not too common. Although your neighborhood is usually safe, these are the times that thieves visit your area. If you’re headed out of town, it’s a good idea to program your outdoor lights to switch on at dusk and off at dawn, of course, keep your doors and windows locked, and make sure to set your alarm system, if you have one.
If you’re going on vacation, put a hold on your mail because piled up mail boxes is a sure sign that nobody is home. Also, stop your newspaper delivery until you return. A stack of newspapers at the front door is also a signal to thieves.
In other words, don’t put a target on your house.
- Outsmart package pirates
“Packages sitting outside your door are like a billboard that screams ‘no one is home,'” says Justin Lavelle, chief communications director for BeenVerified, an online background check platform.
His recommendation, “If you live in a city or high–foot traffic area, consider using an Amazon Locker, where you can pick up packages at your own convenience. (You can also have packages sent to your office address or, for U.S. Postal Service deliveries, held for pickup at a post office location.)”
If you’re buying from an online retailer with brick-and-mortar locations in your area, consider having your items shipped to the local store for pickup.
“If that sounds like a lot of work, most shipping providers (including UPS and FedEx) allow you to postpone delivery until you know someone is home. UPS and FedEx also allow consumers to leave directions for where to drop off packages.”, says Lavelle “Follow their shipping details so you know what date the delivery is anticipated, and leave a note attached to your door with where you want the delivery to be left,” he says. “Just make sure you write ‘For UPS’ or ‘For FedEx’ on the outside and fold the note over or put it in an envelope.” Also, make sure the walkway to your door is open, clear, and visible to neighbors.
“If thieves can shield themselves behind large bushes and decor such as large blowups and Christmas trees, it’s that much easier for them to go unnoticed,” Lavelle says.
- Don’t share too much on social media.
This might be too much to ask nowadays, but trust us here: Smart crooks are not just watching your house, but also social media accounts. Be mindful that when you announce that two-week holiday trip to Vegas all over Twitter, you’re telling the world that your house will be unattended.
The same sense applies to sharing photos of your home and your goods: it’s the same as would-be burglars if there’s something worth stealing inside your home.
And while you’re evaluating your account, be sure that you know who can and more importantly, who cannot see your profile.
“Anytime you publicly RSVP to parties, school events, concerts, or any other event, you’re giving an intruder an invitation to target your home,” Lavelle says. “Social media may not give away your home address, but with the internet it’s not hard to find out.”
- Smarter is better
If you’ve been contemplating the thought of outfitting your home with the latest smart home technology, the holidays are perfect time to finally get on board. You’ll have the excitement of a new gadget to play with, and the peace of mind knowing that your home has some extra safeguards—especially when you can’t be there.
The options are virtually endless in todays market: Think about a smart doorbell, more commonly known as a video doorbell, which detects motion and provides a view of your front door from your smartphone. Or try the a smart security light, which sends real-time push alerts to your phone so you can see and speak to who’s lurking on your porch—or expel an alarm directly from an app, if necessary.
How would you like to control your lights with the swipe of a finger? Check out innovations like smart lightbulbs, which allow you to operate your lighting from anywhere.
Or maybe you’re looking for an all-in-one smart security solution, consider a system like Nest Secure, which integrates a variety of self-installable cameras, motion sensors, and alarms and poses a serious threat to traditional alarm companies.
- Consider upgrading your home
Wood or glass can break easily under pressure from an intruder, says home security expert Sadie Cornelius of SafeSmartLiving.com. Consider upgrading to a stainless steel door.
If that is not consistent with your aesthetic, make sure your deadbolt requires a key on both sides. Smart locks are easy to install and provide an additional layer of security from would-be thieves.
And to better illuminate burglars, consider motion-detecting lights, which use little energy and are often quite affordable.