Tips for keeping your house safe while on vacation

Are you and your family going on vacation this summer? Make sure when you leave town, you don't make your home a target.

Summer is a prime time for home burglaries, often because people leave their windows open. Even though most everyone closes their windows when they leave town, you need to do more than just lock your home up to keep the crooks out of your home. You need a game plan so they don't ruin your vacation.

According to the FBI, the highest percentage of burglaries occur during the months of July and August, when many people are away from their homes on vacation. That's why it's important to make it look like you never get out of town for a needed getaway.

“One of the key things is to make sure your house looks lived in, like it does on a normal, everyday basis,” says South Bend Police Department Crime Prevention Specialist Sgt. Patrick Hechlinski.

Hechlinski says burglars look at patterns. Make sure the pattern doesn't change.

If somebody comes around and they're casing the neighborhood and your house is usually one way and all of a sudden your shades are drawn, your porch lights are left on overnight, your papers are piling up and your mail sticking out of the box,” explains Hechlinski. “Obviously that's going to be a clue that you're not around and your house could be a target for a burglary.

Hechlinski says the best thing you can do is get a trusted friend or relative be your home's caretaker on a daily basis, if possible. And give them a checklist.

“Have them pick up your paper, pick up your mail; if they can turn on the porch lights for you at night, shut them off in the morning, that's a great thing,” says Hechlinski. “Even having a neighbor maybe park in the driveway from time to time so it looks like somebody's there is another great idea. Timers for your lights are a plus. Maybe putting a radio on a timer if somebody should come up, is close by your house, they would hear the noise coming out of the house there and perhaps think somebody's inside.”

Another tip is, you may want to get a safe deposit box at your bank and place your valuables like jewelry in there when you leave town.

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