Living in Paradise

Vacation Home Security Tips

We spend a lot less time at home than you may think….and THEY know it.

Vacation Home Security Tips

In fact, the average person is at work 40 hours per week or more, plus commute times, hours spent shopping and running errands, at the gym, socializing, and much more. Likewise, when we’re on vacation or traveling, our homes are sitting vacant and unattended – and prone to thieves who would love to help themselves to your possessions.

You think I’m overemphasizing this fact?

Each year, there are approximately 2.15 million home thefts and robberies in the U.S., with the five-week period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve the most active time for the bad guys. Of course, the bad guys know that you’re buying expensive gifts like electronics during that period, but also that the average person is likely to take a trip or vacation at least once a year, and in the winter for many folks.

So, while you’re spending time in Thailand, partying in Prague, or communing with nature in Costa Rica, here are some tips on how to keep your things back home safe:

1. Mind your mistakes
Did you know that 65% of home robberies go down place in broad daylight? Or that about 33% of thefts take place without a forced entry at all because thieves can come in through a door or window left unlocked or open? Before you leave, do a thorough review of all windows and doors and make sure you’re secure.

2. Get an alarm (or just show that you have one)
Statistics from police and security experts reveal that thieves are at least 80% less likely to rob a residence if they know there’s an alarm system. Of course, that may mean getting a home security system installed, but you can, at least, put stickers and signs up that claim you do.

3. Light it up
The bad guys love operating in darkness, so install flood lighting and motion detectors around your house, and especially where potential robbers would look to access garage side doors, back sliding doors, or big windows.

4. They’re watching you
A shocking number of home thefts take place not by random, but because the law-breakers are watching, casing your residence until they realize that you’re gone for vacation. They can do this by physically driving or walking by and looking for signs of absence, or even through social media as you post those vacation photos.

5. Signs of life
Therefore, put lights and some other appliances (like TV and music player) on an auto timer that turns on during the day and evening. There are smart home systems and apps that will let you do this remotely while you’re on vacation, so the times are changed up and not exactly the same every night – something thieves watch for.

6. Shelve the mail
Newspapers, flyers, and packages that sit uncollected at the front door are a loud and obvious sign that you’re gone on vacation – and an invitation to be robbed. Make sure you cancel your mail with the post office before you leave, but also ask a friend or neighbor to watch for mail daily.

7. Get a housesitter
Even better, ask someone to stop in and actually use your home a few random times while you’re gone, parking their car in the driveway and making sure there are signs of life. You can also notify your Neighborhood Watch and local police that you’ll be gone, who may willingly do a few extra drive-bys.

8. Put it away
For very valuable items, don’t leave them out in your home but secure them in a strong or hidden safe, or consider putting these things in your safety deposit box at the bank.

9. What NOT to do
As a general rule, don’t post your name on your mailbox, don’t leave a spare key in obvious places like under plants or on top of door frames, don’t order packages or online shopping items that will be delivered while you’re gone, and, once again, be very careful what you’re posting online!

Now you can enjoy your vacation and travel plans without worrying about home break-in’s and robberies back home!

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Norm Schriever is a blogger, Amazon best-sellling author, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone. His work appears in the Huffington Post,, Good Morning America, The Anderson Cooper Show on CNN, NBC, MSN, Yahoo,, and media all around the world.
Norm grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut, where he was never accused of overstudying. After expatriating to Costa Rica in 2011, he started traveling the world and documenting what he saw. He now lives in Southeast Asia, writing his heart out and working with local charities.

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