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Top tips to help deter burglars while you are away

Dear Heather,

We are just about to go on vacation. A friend of ours in the same neighbourhood was burgled not too long ago. Can we do anything to help prevent our house being robbed while we're away?

Anxious

Dear Anxious,

While you're on vacation luxuriating on a cruise ship or exploring Europe, enjoying time with friends or loved ones, thieves could be keeping an eye on your home. Properties with owners who are obviously away can be a target for them.

Many people in Bermuda manage to find a housesitter, but even if this is the case there are still things you can do to make it look like there is more activity both inside and outside of the house than there really is.

Add a security system

If you don't want to deal with a monthly bill, you can buy a DIY system such as the iSmartAlarm.

It comes with an alarm hub, two window sensors, two door sensors, a motion sensor and two key-chain remotes and is very reasonably priced.

For a little more, you can purchase the premium package, which adds a security camera. An HD camera with audio and motion detection and recording capability is also available.

Get a wi-fi doorbell

Products such as SkyBell videotape visitors to your front door, which is accessible by smartphone.

Vary your lights

If your home is being “cased”, would-be thieves may notice that the lights come on at the same time every day and figure out that they are on a timer. With new smart lighting technology and home automation packages, homeowners now have the ability to maintain full control over how a living space is illuminated, even while no one is home.

Brighten multiple rooms or dim lights from the other side of the city or the other side of the world with an app on your smartphone, or invest in a smart home system that alternates lighting on a schedule.

Up your exterior light game

While you're automating your lights, make sure you have enough of them on the outside of your home; a well-lit place is less likely to be an attractive target for a thief.

Also, if you let your neighbours know that you are away, they are likely to keep a closer eye on your home and be alerted to strange noises or unfamiliar faces.

Consider mail and newspaper delivery

Thieves may notice an overfilled mailbox and take that as a cue to hit your home. It is a good idea to ask a neighbour or family member to collect mail as well as any flyers littering your front door.

One piece of mail is no big deal, unless it's there for a week, but three might be an indication that you are not there which could be an invitation to a thief to make their way in.

Newspapers gathering on your front steps may be all the sign a thief needs to target your home. Suspending your delivery for the time you're off the island is easy and smart.

Gardening

If you are a diligent homeowner who mows his lawn every week and things start to look overgrown and neglected, it's easy to come to the conclusion that you are not around. If you plan on being away for an extended period of time, hire someone to take care of the landscaping chores in your absence.

Check your doors and windows before you leave

You might not realise you have a back door or first floor window that's unlocked, but a burglar will. Turning off your electric garage door is also an effective way to keep thieves from opening it with a universal remote. Statistics have shown that roughly 32 per cent of all home invasions are unforced entry, meaning they likely occur through an unlocked door or window. That's not an insignificant number.

A good rule of thumb? Check once, check twice, and then have another family member check again, because it's easy to prevent someone from just walking right into your home.

Making sure the place is on lockdown while away is one of the best deterrents out there. Better safe than sorry.

Chill on the social media updates

Just posted a picture on Facebook of the family hanging out on Maui or tweeted about a great restaurant near Disney World? You just gave thieves all the information they need to make your home next on their list. If you still want to share your good times online, set your profiles to private. Better still, wait until you get back to share your photos.

Don't let the anticipation of a well-deserved vacation blind you to the risks of leaving your home unprotected.

A little extra vigilance will help keep your property and belongings safer.

• Heather Chilvers is among Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty's leading sales representatives. She has been working in real estate for 27 years. If you have a question for Heather, please contact her at hchilvers@brcl.bm or 332-1793. All questions will be treated in confidence. Read this article on Facebook: Ask Heather Real Estate

Be vigilant: a security system, checking doors and windows and varying lighting will help to prevent robberies

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Published August 02, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated August 02, 2016 at 9:13 am)

Top tips to help deter burglars while you are away

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