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Simple ways to burglar-proof your home while on vacation

Things you can do to keep the crooks out
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Posted at 5:00 AM, Mar 27, 2023

A lot of prep work goes into traveling, but there's one thing you don't want to skip: making sure your home is safe while you're away.

So before you head to the airport or hit the highway for a spring or summer vacation, there are some easy steps you can take to make sure your home is not easy to break into.

To find out what works best, we caught up with two police officers checking a home for a family heading out of town, to see what these experts suggest you do before you go.

Check all doors and windows

Sergeant Tim Schmidtgoessling of the Amberley Village, Ohio police department says the first thing to do the day you are leaving is to check every door and window.

"I recommend checking your doors to make sure they are locked," he said

The Sergeant is amazed how many people forget to lock back doors.

In this particular house, he found a little-used door behind the garage that was unlocked.

He also says many people forget to close and lock second floor bedroom or bathroom windows, that burglars love, because all they have to do is scramble up a ladder or garage roof and they are in your home.

"Right here," he said, pointing to a bathroom window, "you can see there's a window open, that might be a window they don't use much and don't know it's open."

He said thieves know that bathroom windows rarely have alarms on them.

Lights, cameras, clear views to windows

Shmidtgoessling says make sure your outdoor lights -- and security cameras if you have them -- are all working.

Make sure your video doorbell app is up to date on your phone, and sending alerts.

Ideally, he says, lights should go on at sundown and off in the early morning.

Additionally, a few days before you go, he suggests you trim back bushes that block windows

"If it's overgrown, it's going to cover that window, which gives people the capability to hide behind it and break into your house," he said.

He also suggests sliding the security lock on your garage door, since thieves sometimes come with garage door openers that might trigger your door.

"Most garage doors have a secondary lock," he said. "We recommend locking that for added security as well."

Make the house look lived-in

Kevin Brasler with Consumers' Checkbook says it's always a good idea to make it look like someone is at home.

"Having lights turn on and off, have music playing or a TV blaring always helps," he said.

Brasler says the trick is to keep up appearances.

So have the post office hold your mail, and ask a neighbor to pick up packages and take out the trash.

"Some burglars will see 'oh it's trash day' and that one house didn't put their cans out by the curb," he said. Or they will notice trash cans at the end of your driveway 2 or 3 days after pickup day.

Also, be mindful of where you hide a spare key.

Brasler says they're easier to find than you think.

"I've spoken to a lot of contractors overs the years and they've said you know, we're always finding spare keys when we're doing work."

Contact local police

Finally, before you go, Sergeant Schmidtgoessling has one more tip.

"I would say start by contacting your local police department," he said.

If you are in a town with a local police force, he suggests you ask if they do courtesy checks like his department does.

That way you can enjoy your vacation and you don't waste your money.

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