The holidays are a time for getting together with friends and family - a time when all is merry and cheer is high, of crackling wood under the fireplace, good home-cooked food, and hot cocoa. But unbeknownst to many, it is also sadly a time for burglaries. In fact, nearly 400,000 burglaries take place in the United States between November and January each year, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. December to January is also deemed an "extra vigilant" month by the National Crime Prevention Council, especially for families who have impending travel plans. And whether you're on a tight budget or would like to splurge on security, don't despair - we're giving you five practical tips on how you can keep your home safe during the holidays without breaking the bank.
Automated Holiday Home Security
We've all seen the "Home Alone" movies that make Christmas break-ins look like fun and games. But there's nothing amusing about putting your family in harm's way. That's why experts suggest that all families provide themselves with an automated security system. Managing your home's security is top priority, especially when you have everyone under one roof. Additionally, alarm systems are the biggest deterrent of burglaries, and wards off badly-intented people.
Another great affordable alternative is to use a nifty device called Lockitron that enables you to lock and unlock your home's deadbolt locks with a touch of a button, no matter where you are - all from your favorite iPhone. Available for only $150, this item works with an app and interacts with a specialized deadbolt lock installed on your door jam. Even better, the device also comes with a bluetooth sensing device that reads your phone as if it's the key and unlocks the door whilst you're steps away.
Keep Your Travel Plans Classified
There's a reason why airports are a nightmare during the holidays - and it's not just the torrential winter weather. No, airports are a mess during the holidays because everyone is travelling. That is, everyone except burglars, who instead will be scheming ways to take advantage of your empty home. In fact, burglars prefer to break into homes that are unoccupied because if they're caught in the act, it's considered by law to be less of a crime than if they were to burglarize an occupied home.
Because of this, you'd want your house to look as "normal as when you're at home" while you're away. Basically, the more "lived-in" your home can look, the better. One way to achieve this is to have automatic timer for your lights. Another is to leave your car parked out on the drive way. Lastly, turn to your good old neighborhood and ask them to look after your home. Lastly, work out your mail and newspaper delivery - you wouldn't want them to pile up and make it obvious to everyone that you're not there to pick it up.
Don't Show Off Your Glittering Gifts
Whether you're celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, it's almost a given that once December hits, presents will start rolling into your home. Unfortunately, your kids aren't the only ones excited about their holiday gifts. Burglars will be keeping tabs, too. For that reason, try as much as you can to not make large displays of holiday gifts visible through windows and doors of your home - it'll just invite more unwanted attention. After all, there's safety in humility.
Secure Your Home's Entry Points
Since we all know that burglars are lazy, they try as much as they can to steal our belongings. Burglars prefer to take the easy way out and go after homes that are an easy target. Less-than-sturdy windows and doors, for example, could attract burglars to your home during the holidays.
On top of that, the biggest misconception people have is that a deadbolt lock will keep them safe. However, if you don't reinforce the area around the lock, it takes no strength to break into a home. A report on the burglary of single-family homes by the U.S. Homeowner's Association offers similar sentiments.
Poor building materials can make houses more vulnerable to burglary, and older houses may have rusting, easily compromised locks or worn and decaying window and door frames, while newer houses may be built with cheap materials.
So, what can you do to better burglar-proof your home this holiday season? Go to the home improvement store and look at the different items that are there, talk to the salespeople, and ask them how you can secure your home and strengthen the area around your dead bolt lock.
Be Very Aware of Your Surroundings
This tip sounds a little ominous, we know, but with safety and holiday cheer at stake - it's best to be overly cautious. It's actually a proven fact that most burglars live in the neighborhood where they commit the crime, so you want to be careful when bringing in gifts or items into your home. Before unloading your car, make sure that you weren't followed back home from the shopping mall, or that there's no one suspicious lurking on your street.
Something else you might want to consider during the holidays: traveling in a pack.If there's any opportunity to have more people around you, then make sure you do. Burglars won't likely approach you if you're with three or four other people.