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6 Ways to Protect Your Home While You're on Vacation

Nothing spoils a great vacation faster than returning home to find that your house has been burglarized. According to the FBI, in 2017, there were an estimated 1,401,840 burglaries in the United States. Residential properties made up 67.2% of that number.

Burglary victims in the U.S. incurred about $3.4 billion in property losses in 2017, with the average loss totaling $2,416. Learn how to help keep your property and possessions safe while you enjoy that much-deserved vacation.

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1. Use light and sound to simulate occupancy.

One of the easiest and least expensive ways to create the impression that your home is occupied is by using timers to turn on indoor and outdoor lights. Program the lights to come on at semi-random intervals. You can also put a radio or TV on a timer to create noise that makes it sound like you're home.

2. Invest in a professionally installed home security system.

Professionally installed and monitored home security systems can help to be a deterrent for would-be robbers. Homes without security systems are three times more likely to be burglarized.

A monitored system uses door and window sensors to alert the company personnel of a security breach. They will contact law enforcement for you. This can be helpful especially if you do not have reliable cellphone coverage while you're away.

Remember to notify your insurance agent about your new security system because some insurance companies may offer home insurance safety discounts.

3. Buy a DIY outdoor security camera.

If a full security system is not an option, consider a smart security camera placed outside your home that sends alerts and video clips to your smartphone if motion is detected. This allows you to see what's happening on your property in real time. You can put an easy-to-install battery-powered Wi-Fi camera anywhere as long as it can connect to your router.

4. Enlist help from neighbors.

Ask a trusted neighbor to park in your driveway and collect your mail and newspaper. It's a good idea to leave a spare key or a garage code with this person in case they need quick access to your home. If you're going to be traveling during certain times of the year for extended periods of time, such as over summer break or during the winter, have someone mow your lawn or shovel your driveway. And don't forget to stop newspaper delivery.

5. Store your valuables safely out of sight.

Keep the blinds or drapes closed in rooms that contain large electronics such as TVs, sound systems and computers. Burglars often head to the master bedroom first in search of valuables, so be sure to store cash, jewelry and credit cards in either a lock box or a safe that's bolted to the floor.

6. Keep a low social media profile while gone.

While it's tempting to post all those awesome vacation photos as you're making the memories to provide friends and family— that's risky. Unless all of your social media accounts are private, you could be announcing to strangers that you're not home and your property is vulnerable.

Be sure to also take precautions with your voicemail or answering machine messages and email auto-replies. Keep your messages vague.

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