Experts advise homeowners to lock it or lose it while away on vacation
People love to share their summer vacation photos on their social accounts but experts say those picturesque posts could be an open invitation to thieves looking to loot your property while you’re away.
The Better Business Bureau says there have been more than 1000 residential break-ins this year and is reminding people to be aware of tell-tale signs that indicate your home is empty.
"Between booking flights and hotels and packing your belongings, it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of a vacation," said Sandra Crozier-McKee, president and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay. "But it's crucial to think about not only what you're taking with you but also what you're leaving behind."
The BBB says people should have a home security plan to keep burglars at bay.
- Don't announce your vacation to everyone. Using social media to announce your travel plans tells strangers that you will be away from your home, which makes it an easy target for thieves.
- Make it look like you're home. Leave blinds and curtains in their usual position, arrange to have your yard maintained and consider using timed lights to make it appear as though someone is home.
- Not using your cheque book, address book, etc.? Leave them at home. They become clutter and if lost during your travels, you become a target for identity theft. Secure personal information in a locked, fire-proof safe and do not share the password.
- Stop your mail and newspapers while you're gone. An overflowing mailbox can be a tempting target for someone who wants to steal your personal information. Piled up papers could tip off thieves that your home is unoccupied.
- Leave your computer at home. If you must bring it with you, update anti-virus or anti-spyware programs before you leave home, and avoid using public Wi-Fi networks to access financial accounts. Never leave your computer unattended in a public place and make sure it is password protected.
- Lock it up. Of course this seems obvious, but it's easy to forget things like windows and outside doors. Also turn off your garage door opener to keep thieves from opening it with a universal remote.
- Park in the garage. If you're not driving to your destination, keep your vehicle secure in the garage. Leaving it on the driveway or street for days on end may make it an easy target for thieves. Also take all of your valuables out of your vehicle and store them securely in your home.
Calgary police are also reminding people to secure property if they are going out of town.
Police have these tips to help ensure your property is secure:
- Secure all windows, door and garage entrances
- Remove spare keys and garage door openers from vehicles
- Have someone check your property even if you’re only away for a few days
- Store important and irreplaceable items away from your home if you’re away
- Don’t advertise your vacation plans, especially on social media
- Wait until you return from your trip before posting photos and trip memories
- Consider installing home and vehicle alarms and anti-theft devices
- Use timers to control lighting inside the house
- Install exterior motion lights in dark areas
- Report any suspicious vehicles, activity or behavior to police
For more information and tips from the Better Business Bureau, click HERE.