Going on vacation is exciting — both for you and potential burglars. Nowadays, there are many ways burglars can target the home you left behind based on your social media activity.
Robbers can discover when you’ll be away and take advantage of your absence by clearing out your home. Nobody wants to come back from vacation to find their valuables stolen, so keep your home protected with these tips.
- Post pictures after vacation, not during
Nothing will tip off a potential burglar quite like a picture of you and your family on some exotic beach posted to Facebook. The only thing worse than that is making the caption “enjoying the sun until Friday!”
These days, anybody can see your social media account, and robbers use it to find targets. Post all of your brag-worthy pics once you’re home and never announce on social media where you’re going or how long you’ll be there.
- Turn off geotagging
Similarly, when you post pictures or messages on social media, geotags may attach your location to the post. This is dangerous while you’re on vacation for obvious reasons, but also when you’re not. Burglars can monitor your Instagram account to see where you spend most of your time. Then, any activity outside of your regular area will send a message to them that you’re away and that your home may be unoccupied.
This type of targeting may seem creepy, and it definitely is — but it happens. Don’t become a victim because of something as silly as location markers on Instagram.
- Use faux activity intelligently
A house that is dark and quiet for three days in a row can certainly spark the interest of potential burglars. Consider installing lights outside and inside your home that run on timers.
There are even timers out now that allow you to control your lighting from your smartphone. Many also have a “vacation mode” which will turn your lights on and off randomly. TVs and radios can be used on timers as well to create activity in your home that might dissuade a break-in.
Beware, though, because burglars aren’t unaware of this technology. Don’t be obnoxious about your use of it. A house with all the lights on and the TV blaring at 4am is just as suspicious as a dark house at 9pm. Set the lights and TV to go on and off at regular times.
- Write vacation email responses carefully
When people go on vacation, they often set auto-replies for their work emails letting people who try to contact them know they won’t be in the office. When writing this type of automatic response, consider anybody malicious who might email you to see if you’re on vacation.
Paranoid? Maybe. But why take the risk?
Don’t give away the fact that you’re out of town. Instead, stay vague about the reason for your absence.
- Update your garage door
You’d be surprised how often intruders are able to walk right into an unlocked home; this happens in approximately 30% of home burglaries. Okay, but you lock your doors and windows, so you should be fine, right?
What about your garage door? In about 9% of burglaries, an unsecured garage door is the easily overlooked point of entry. Making sure your garage is securely locked and protected will make your house a tougher target for thieves. Automatic and heavy-duty doors are some of the options available for homeowners to protect their garages and homes.
New technology even allows you to set your garage door to only open when your smartphone is within Wi-Fi range. An app that goes with this system also lets you receive alerts when your garage door gets opened — a great security feature to help give you peace of mind when you’re away.
- Start a neighborhood watch program
Creating a neighborhood watch program will make you feel more at ease and will probably do the same for your neighbors, too. Agree to watch each other’s houses, collect each other’s mail and alert police of any suspicious activity.
A group like this can be easily organized on social media, but make sure the group is private and heavily monitored. If a thief gets their hands on a social media group that outlines exactly when each neighbor will be away, that’s obviously pretty counterproductive.
- Check out apps to monitor your house
Increasing technology can sometimes make it easier for burglars to spot when you’re away, but it can also make it easier for you to spot a burglar.
Similar to the app for garage doors, there are many smartphone apps on the market that allow you to monitor your house, see when doors are open, lock and unlock doors, view your house through cameras and turn lights on and off. Believe it or not, these systems can be instrumental in capturing a thief.
When you’re on vacation, don’t spend your time thinking about being robbed. Protect your home with these tips, and enjoy your vacation without worrying!