The holidays are wonderfully hectic. Most get caught up in decorating and celebrating with family and friends. Unfortunately, this time of the year is also the busy season for home burglars, who seize the moment when many people are distracted by their yet-completed to-do lists.
Increasing home security to help prevent break-ins during the holiday season should be part of your plan as a rental property owner. In fact, it's a great idea to share the following tips with residents who may not be aware of them.
Be Smart & Don’t Tempt Fate
Take a bit of a reserved approach when it comes to displaying expensive gifts or holiday decorations. If valuables can be seen from the street, it increases the chances that they may entice a burglar, with your home becoming a target.
Don’t Neglect a 1st-Floor Window’s Vulnerability
Many thieves are opportunistic; they often break in through a ground-floor window. Adopt an additional defense by adding sash pins to increase security on double-hung windows or consider using a wireless alarm. Either way, remember that the home’s occupants must be able to open these in the case of a fire or other emergency. The window’s security device should be designed to just keep intruders out.
Trim the Property's Trees & Bushes
Shadowy spots created by tall trees or thick bushes offer burglars a great way to prepare for a break-in. A rental property owner can reduce the natural landscaping from being used as cover by keeping the property's landscaping trimmed. As a rental property owner, part of your fall maintenance tasks should be to trim the hedges and greenery near windows and other entryways where a burglar can perch in wait before breaking in.
Double Check Your Locks
For a rental property owner, simple door and window locks offer the first line of defense against an unwanted intruder. Take the time to make sure they're in working order and able to be locked.
If you're nervous about your renter mistakenly locking themselves out, leave a spare key with a neighbor, or find a hiding place (that only you know) away from the lock the key fits.
Consider installing smart locks because they offer added protection and don't depend on someone remembering to lock a door.
Don’t Advertise Your Absence
Holidays often include family get-togethers and long-distance travel. If yours includes travel, do not advertise the fact that your home will be vacant.
Don’t Share Too Much Information On Social Media
Although it's tempting to be able to tell everyone you know your holiday travel plans in one simple post, it's not a good idea to advertise you're on vacation and your home is unattended.
Social media is often scoured by thieves and crooks who essentially use it as a window-shopping event. Enjoy your trip and the moment and save your memories to post when you get back home.
Notify Neighbors & Ask Them To Take In A Package If Left While You Are Gone
Remember to ask a neighbor or friend to pick up any packages left outside your front door. A collection of packages is an invitation or opportunity for a thief to help themselves to your gifts and valuables. If you're uncertain of the timing of a delivery, plan to ship the package to a secure location, like a friend or relative’s home.
Brighten the Exterior of Your Home
Keeping darker areas better lit helps eliminate safe hiding places for potential burglars. The most effective technique is to install cost-effective motion-detector lights. These types of spotlights automatically light up when their built-in sensors detect movement in their defined area. A thief can be quite surprised when the house lights up even before they have gotten close to an entry point.
Create the Illusion of an Active Home
A dark home is a potential target for an intruder. The simple solution is to set up a few timers on several lights in various living areas. It's best to install at least one timer on each floor – usually in the living areas and at least one bedroom. Set the timers to mimic your schedule, so the home looks active and lived in. And if someone does break in, a lit home can help others spot a potential intruder.
Hold Mail Delivery While Gone
The USPS has a service in which you can have them suspend the delivery of mail temporarily while you're out of town or on holiday. This hold-mail service is available for holds of three to 30 days.
Don’t Advertise Expensive Gifts
If you have received a new large flat screen TV, take the time to break down the box rather than leave this giant box on the curb for garbage pickup. If you prefer not to break down the boxes, take them directly to the local recycling center instead.
You may also want to avoid posting pictures of expensive or valuable gifts on your social media accounts.
Consider Investing in a Smart Home Security System
The good news is that customizable home alarm systems have become more widely available and affordable in the modern, high-tech digital age. These home security systems offer protection against burglary but also have sensors to help in the event of the presence of carbon monoxide or fire.
Most smart home security systems are connected to the company’s central monitoring center, as well as your smartphone. If an alarm is triggered, the monitoring station staff can alert first responders (police, fire, etc.) in case of fire or a potential holiday break-in.
By taking some very simple precautions and having the right security essentials in place, as a rental property manager you can help your renters minimize potential holiday theft and burglary.