Safe And Sound, Wherever You Are


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Spring is here. Well, sort of. Daylight Savings Time has returned on schedule, as reliable as New Year’s Day and the Fourth of July. Your clocks have sprung forward, you changed the batteries in your smoke alarms, and not too many of you overslept on April 2. Now you get to clean the filters on your air conditioners and do whatever else you need to do to make sure you’re ready for the warm summer months. Maybe even do a little bit of spring cleaning.

This is also the time of year you get bombarded with ideas for travel – for spring break, summer vacations, and short weekend getaways to a mountain cottage or beach house or country inn. Sometimes it seems that half the city and a large part of the suburbs empty out every weekend once spring arrives.

And guess what? Late spring and summer are among the happiest times in the world for thieves! Why not, when there’s nobody around to notice that they’ve broken into your house, and you won’t be back until Monday at the earliest, maybe not for a week or more – by which time your prized possessions have been fenced, your car has been through the chop shop, and tracking the burglars gets harder with every day that passes.

So before you pack the SUV or call a cab to take you to the airport, take stock around your house or apartment. Here are a few things you should consider doing before you get away on your get-away.

  • Tell someone – the police department, a neighbor, nearby family members – about your trip. Let them know when you’re leaving, where you’ll be staying, when you’ll be back, and how to contact you in an emergency. If you have a security system connected to the police and/or fire department, make sure they know that you’re not there.

  • Stop delivery of mail and newspapers. Nothing shows your absence better than several days’ worth of newspapers in front of your door or a mailbox so full nothing else will fit.

  • Ask someone you trust to keep an eye on the house while you’re away. Make sure they have a spare key. They can make sure that no deliveries slip through the cracks and keep your place looking occupied. A friend with a key can also be helpful in an emergency of any sort. Imagine you get sick while on vacation, and the insurance papers you need for treatment are locked in the house. Or if there is a break-in, they’ll be available to a) call the police and b) be there when the police come to investigate.

  • Take valuables to your safe deposit box. Don’t leave jewelry, negotiable bond certificates, coin collections, and other easily portable items in a desk or bureau, even if it’s locked. If you don’t have a good safe to store them in, take them to a place that does.

  • Set timers to turn lights and appliances on and off. Sophisticated systems will allow you to preset “random" times; simpler ones turn on the same appliances every day at the same time. But don’t leave the house looking empty.

  • Check your security system. Make sure all access points are securely locked. Front door, back door, and garage doors are all vulnerable. So are windows. If you don’t have key-operated window locks, get them. Better yet – especially for city apartment dwellers below the third floor – get bars put on all accessible windows.

    And don’t forget – when you get back home, thank the people who watched over your house – send a note to the police department, take your friend out to lunch or buy them flowers. Because the best security in the world comes not from locks and keys, but from being – and having – good neighbors.

    Now, make your plans, and have a great vacation!

    Originally published:

    Andrew Reed grew up in Asheville, North Carolina. He moved to New York in 1970, and following his undergraduate studies at Columbia University he became a marketing specialist with National Broadcasting and other companies. He returned to the WNC mountains in 1993, where he works as an editor, freelance writer, and marketing consultant. He operates a web-based editing and marketing company, , and specializes in writing for web sites.

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