When holiday planning you source the best price flights, carefully select accommodation, compare car hire, etc. but we often leave our home security as an afterthought when it should be on every holiday plan.
The best option is to have someone responsible stay at your home but that’s not always possible. Insurance companies can quote frightening statistics of a steep rise in burglaries when it’s clear a house is empty so your first plan is to create the illusion someone is there even when they are not. Plug-in security timers are simple to program and are great for lamps to add light around the house at different times of the day. Another timer on a TV or radio is good to add noise so your home doesn’t sound empty but do think about your neighbours and set the timer to switch the noise off late at night.
If you know your neighbours well, tell them the dates you’re away and, if appropriate, leave them a key and ask them to pop in each day, maybe to water plants or close curtains in the evenings. Also ask them to check your post is pushed through the letterbox and to move your bin if the dustmen leave it in front of your door or at the end of the drive; sure signs no-one is home. If you have a driveway that normally has a car on it, ask your neighbour to park there some days.
Outside your home, keep hedges low and trees trimmed so no-one can hide behind, and check your garden for tools that could be used to break in and lock sheds and garages. Stand outside and think like a burglar: Where would you try to break in? Can any of your valuables be seen from outside? Check all of your windows and patio doors are properly locked as too many intruders get in without breaking anything; they simply get lucky.
If you’re leaving your computer, do a back-up and store the disks safely, preferably ‘offsite’ with a neighbour or friend.
Heaven forbid anyone does get in your home, but if they do don’t make it easy for them by leaving your jewellery on the dressing table. Consider a home safe or store small valuables in less obvious places such as the kitchen or bathroom, not the bedroom or study.
Apart from security timers and the fridge/freezer, it’s better to unplug all electrical equipment when away from home. If the water isn’t needed for watering houseplants by a neighbour then switch the water off too.
Take photos of your home as excellent proof of what was there before you left.
Avoid writing your full name and address on luggage labels. While travelling or at the airport, these labels can alert the wrong people to exactly which homes are empty and for how long. Do label your luggage clearly but use tags with a cover or write your house number and postcode only, not your full address.