Posted by Outer Banks Blue

Vacationers should make sure Burglars don't know you're gone!

Attention Outer Banks Vacationers!   Be sure you don't announce to thieves that your house is ready to be robbed while you are at the beach!
I saw an article in our regional newspaper a few days ago that piqued my interest on a subject that not many of us thinks about - security of your home while you are at the beach on vacation.
We hear at least a couple of stories every year from Outer Banks Blue guests who return home after a relaxing vacation only to find that their home was broken into while they were away.
The article went on to mention several common sense tips and we wanted to share some of those tips courtesy of Toni Guagenti of The Virginian Pilot Newspaper of Norfolk, Virginia.
Tip #1     Don't let the world know you are gone.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Pinterest and other sites are great to stay in touch and tell your circle about the news in your life, but make sure you don't send an invitation to crooks to case your home!   Check your privacy settings to ensure you aren't sharing more than you should to more folks that you should.
Guagenti quoted Michell Schenker, chief operating officer of the website who suggested you should be cautious.  "If you're posting your picture from Disney World, then everyone will know you are in Orlando and not at home."
Maybe waiting till you get home to post those vacation pics may be a safer way to go.

Tip #2     Don't let mail, newspapers and packages pile up at your home.
As a neighbor to pick up your mail or packages.  Be sure you call to have your daily newspaper delivery stopped.  Or you can go to your post office and ask to have a hold put on your mail while you are away.  
None of these ideas takes a long time to set up, but they can be a lifesaver. 

Tip #3     Get a dog.
Outer Banks Blue has a number of houses that accept pets, but you may want to consider leaving Buster at home and hiring a dog sitter to come by the house.   As Guagenti's article suggested you can ask your dog sitter to turn porch lights on and off, open and shut blinds and curtains and give the house a look as though someone is there, but most of all...
The bark of a live dog is a good way to scare away trouble.

Tip #4     Get a security-system sign - even if you don't have a security system.
Evidently you can purchase on-line those yard and window signs that you see in front of houses announcing a security system is in place.   Interesting idea.   Some crooks are evidently deterred by just the presence of a sign or sticker.
Or, you could just go to tip #8 and go ahead and get a security system!

Tip #5     Schedule outside work on your home when you are away (like lawn maintenance)
An unkempt yard is a sign no one is caring for the property.   Yard maintenance vehicles coming and going could fool those same crooks mentioned in tip #4.

Tip #6    Take away the hide-a-key
If you are not home you won't be locked out of your house.  Take the key to be sure no one finds it when you are away.

Tip #7     Put lights on a timer
Motion detector lights are a good investment for the exterior floods that serve your driveway, but you can also put your lights on an old fashioned timer.  They run about $10 at the local hardware store and they turn power from any outlet on and off for any times you set them for.  Most timers will allow you to set two different cycles each day so you can have the lights on in the early morning, and in the evening as well.

Tip #8     Invest in a home-security system.
I've had one for years, and I can't tell you how much peace of mind it gives me when I'm away or even at night when everyone is in bed.   My system has exterior door and window devices as well as motion detectors.
i remember being in Arizona on business one time and getting that call from my security company telling me someone was in my house.   As I was on the phone they were telling me that the intruder was moving from my living room to the kitchen, and into my bedroom.   When the police arrived the security company was actually able to tell the police the exact location of the person as the good guys arrived.
I didn't have anything stolen, and the thief was arrested.   The system cost me less than $500 to install and I pay less than $100 a year in monitoring costs.  The best investment I've ever made.
If you watch television commercials lately you will also note that you can activate the alarm via your smart phone even if you forgot to activate it before you left (my biggest mistake).
I even have a feature on my system that will "chirp" whenever an exterior door is opened in the house.   That's a great feature for a guy like me with five young children that I can't always keep track of.

 Tip #9     Call the Police
This tip is mine, and wasn't in the article i read.   In my community if I know that I am going to be gone for a time my local police provide a service where they will come by my house at least once daily and look for anything out of order.   They don't promise to get out of the car and walk around the house or shine lights in the window, but they will at least drive by the house a couple of times a day, and if I've told them no one should be at my house and they see a car or truck parked at the house they will investigate.
Before I purchased a security system this came in handy one time.   My college aged son decided it would be a good time to invite friends from school and throw a party at Dad's house while I was away.   He got quite a surprise from the local police Sergeant knocking on the door and saying "son, your Dad told us no one is supposed to be here."   Needless to say the party re-located back to the campus and my house was untouched after the police visit.

Whatever methods you choose to protect your house when you are away are worth the effort.   Family heirlooms, personal possessions and even the mental stress of knowing a stranger was in your house is always well worth the effort.

Here's to great vacations and no bad news from home while you are on the Outer Banks this summer!
Do you have any other ideas to pass along on this topic?   Post them if you can think of another good idea.

All the best from the beach!

By Tim Cafferty, President, Outer Banks Blue Realty Services

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