A vacation home can provide a wonderful escape from your everyday routine, but how can you keep it secure when you’re not there? Unfortunately, vacation homes are often subject to burglary, vandalism and trespassing due to being vacant for lengthy periods of time. Below are some simple tips you can employ to help ensure that your property and valuables are kept safe from unwanted visitors while you’re away.

1. Secure all windows and doors.
As obvious as it may seem, many vacation homes get broken into due to nothing more than leaving a window or door unlocked. In fact, upwards of 40 percent of all home burglaries in the United States are unforced entries. Doors that are equipped with keyless entry locks provide an excellent deterrent to would-be intruders. If you have sliding glass doors, make sure to lock them with a security bar. Walk around your house and thoroughly inspect every window and door, double-checking to ensure that all screens are in place and any ladders are safely put away. If you have any pet doors that can be accessed from the outside, make sure to lock them as well. Be sure to lock any basement doors, as well as the doors on any external structures such as sheds or garden houses.

2. Install an automated home security system.
You can install motion-sensor lights to illuminate various walkways, windows and entryways. This will act as a highly effective deterrent, because most thieves will decide to go elsewhere if your house lights up upon their approach. You can also install timers for indoor lights to give the impression that there is activity in the house, even if you’re far away. Automated home security systems such as BeHome247 enable you to control all kinds of home devices including door locks, lights, cameras, etc., by way of your smartphone or computer. In addition, something as simple as cameras mounted on the outside of your home can discourage most would-be intruders, even if you use fake or imitation security cameras.

3. Get to know your neighbors.
Aside from the obvious social value, building good relationships with your neighbors can pay great dividends in terms of keeping your vacation home safe. Neighbors can keep an eye out on your property and report any suspicious activity to the police. Close-knit neighborhoods tend to experience lower break-in rates, because more often than not, strangers will stick out like a sore thumb. Identify a trustworthy neighbor with whom you can leave your contact information, so that they can notify you if anything happens. In addition, ask them to remove regularly delivered items such as newspapers or phone books that may accumulate around your door, so that the property doesn’t appear to be unoccupied or unattended.

4. Hire a landscaping service.
Invest in some type of landscaping service to keep your lawn and garden areas in shape while you’re away. Untidy hedges, overgrown grass, or a weed-infested garden can all be dead giveaways that there is no one home to take care of the property.

5. Do not leave a spare key in an obvious place or go with keyless locks.
It’s not a good idea to leave a spare key in a well-known hiding place such as under the front doormat, on top of a porch light or under a fake rock. Instead, leave it with a trusted neighbor or nearby friend, or look into installing keyless locks on your vacation home. These locks require no key and are often able to be controlled by a smartphone or computer so you don’t even have to be close by to lock or unlock your doors.

6. Keep good records of your belongings.
Create an inventory sheet of the important possessions in your vacation home, so that you can easily identify if something is absent. Record the serial numbers of any valuable electronics items on a spreadsheet or some other type of organized list.

Unfortunately, many people don’t give too much thought to securing their vacation home until after a break-in or burglary has occurred. You’ve worked too hard and invested too much into your vacation home to allow it to remain unprotected. Use the tips listed above to help keep your vacation home safe, sound and ready to be enjoyed on your next trip.

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