Keep Your Southern Maryland Home Safe While You’re on Vacation

Kimberly Bean
Kimberly Bean
Published on August 6, 2018

When you’re planning a vacation, there’s not much room in your brain for anything other than packing, sandy beaches, cool waters, or adventures with family.

But before you leave, you need to make room for one more thing: The safety of your Southern Maryland home while you’re away.

According to the FBI, crime rates increase about 10 percent during the months of June, July, and August. So, before you pack another beach towel and bathing suit, take steps to protect your home from the burglars that may be lurking around your unoccupied home while you’re gone.

Check all doors and windows

If your routine is to open the bathroom window to let the misty air out while you shower, don’t forget to close and lock it when you’re done. Many of us don’t remember, which is why thieves will check the bathroom first, says Jerome Gilgan, a convicted burglar.

“Bathroom windows have always been one of the best ways” to get into a home, he tells Kyle Iboshi of KGW News in Portland, Oregon.

The other way burglars gain entry to homes? The front door. A whopping 32 percent go in that way, but locking the door doesn’t guarantee that you won’t become a victim. If the door is locked, many burglars will check the most common places homeowners hide the key.

But even without a key, they’ll find a way in through the door. “If they know you’re not home, many thieves will simply kick in the door or remove it from its hinges,” according to the pros at Crime Prevention Security Systems.

Don’t let newspapers and mail pile up

Gilgan told KGW News that one of the things he looked for when casing which homes to burgle was overstuffed mailboxes. Hire a neighborhood kid to pick up your mail while you’re gone. Or, have the post office hold it for you.

Don’t forget to tell the newspaper delivery person to cease delivery for the period you’ll be out of town. A collection of newspapers in the driveway is a dead giveaway that nobody is home. 

Mind your landscaping

Professional thief Michael Shayne Durden, who performed hundreds of burglaries in Texas over a period of 20 years, says that one of the things he looked for when casing homes was overgrown lawns.

Durden focused on neighborhoods with well-maintained homes, so a home with an un-mowed lawn, is a “dead giveaway” the owner is on vacation, Durden admitted in a jailhouse interview with the Allen, TX, police department.

Then there’s that privacy landscaping around the front of the house. You love it because it keeps out neighbors’ prying eyes, but burglars love it, too. Just like you, they don’t want neighbors watching them, so a home with lots of cover becomes a target.

Before leaving on vacation, have your gardener cut back anything that provides a screen between the street and your windows and doors.

Leaving a light on isn’t enough

I “would drive through upper class neighborhoods looking for many things, like a porch light on with all window blinds closed,” one burglar inmate told KGW News.

Gilgan wholeheartedly agrees, adding that “keeping the blinds or drapes closed” while on vacation is one of the biggest mistakes homeowners make.

So, open the window coverings, and turn on some lights and the TV.

Other ways to deter burglaries

The best way to deter a burglary while you’re out of town is to make the home look occupied. One of the best ways to do that is by parking a car in the driveway. If you’ll be leaving your car at the airport, ask a neighbor to use your driveway while you’re away.

Another way is to install a wireless security system. “It’s a major deterrent,” according to Durden. When he sees signs for these systems in front and backyards, he says that “[t]here’s no point in even going there.”

In fact, homes without security systems are three times more likely to be broken into, according to SecurAmerica, LLC.

When the system is installed, but signs advertising the system (ensure that it says “wireless” on it) in both the front and back yards. 

Hide your valuables

The most commonly stolen items from a home include:

  • Cash
  • Prescription drugs
  • Jewelry
  • Electronics (TVs, gaming consoles, computers, iPads and smartphones
  • Firearms

The worst place to hide these items while you’re gone? The master bedroom. It’s the first place a thief will look.

“Put jewelry in your garage, and mix it in with your tools,” Durden suggests. “Or, put it in the ceiling or in the attic.”

Burglars don’t spend much time in a home, and these are places they typically don’t get to.

“People really need to pay attention to their offices,” Durden continued.

He’s found credit cards in home offices (which he then used at Walmart to buy popular electronics that he sold on the street) and financial records, including bank account numbers with routing numbers.

Before leaving on vacation, do a tour around the home, making sure that doors and windows are locked and that valuables are hidden away.

Then, go and have some fun!

Waldorf MD Homes for Sale and Real Estate Services in Southern Maryland. You now have a search engine to help you with your Southern Maryland home search! And I’m ready to provide you with a custom home valuation if you’re considering selling your home. Let’s connect to discuss how I can help you. Contact Kimberly Bean at 301-440-1309

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