Tips to keep your home secure while you're away

Home isn't just a place to hang your hat. It's where memories are made, precious items are stored and your family resides. But when you're traveling, you home can sit empty for days, putting it at a heightened risk of burglary. These tips can give you peace of mind and help keep your home and everything inside it safe.

Block easy entry
Make sure burglars can't get into your home quickly and easily.

  • Add a blocking device to windows and sliding glass doors. For instance, wedge a wooden bar or block into the track.
  • Install steel or solid-core exterior doors, with hinges placed on the inside. Add a heavy-duty deadbolt lock.
  • Make sure burglars can't easily access interior locks and doorknobs, such as through a mail slot or dog door.
  • Store handy "break-in tools" - like hammers, crowbars, screwdrivers, and ladders - out of sight.

Eliminate hiding spots
Stealth is an asset for burglars, so make it hard for them to hide.

  • Add exterior lighting. Some experts suggest a light at every door and corner of the house. Using motion-sensor lights can minimize the impact on your electric bills.
  • Remove potential hiding spots close to your home, such as high hedges, overgrown bushes and tall fences, particularly near doors and windows.

Sound the alarm
Noise is a burglar's enemy, so alarm systems with loud sirens or other noise effects can be a good defense. In fact, according to the National Council on Home Safety and Security, homes that don't have security systems are 300 percent more likely to experience a burglary.¹

  • DIY security systems are relatively inexpensive, starting around $200, and are available at most home improvement stores. They may let you monitor your home via alerts to your smartphone.
  • Professionally installed systems cost more - starting at just over a thousand dollars - but offer more features, which could include cameras, third-party monitoring and night vision capabilities.
  • Post signs and stickers in the front and back of your property to let potential thieves know you're protected by a security system.

Leave it looking lived in
An empty house looks like an easier job to burglars. So don't make it obvious no one's home.

  • To make sure mail and newspapers, don't stack up, put them on hold or have a neighbor pick them up for you.
  • Use timers to have some interior lights - and even the TV or radio - turn on and off at logical times of day.
  • Be cautious of sharing your plans on social media, where the information on when you'll be gone could accidentally get into the wrong hands.

Work with your neighbors
Last but not least, let a trusted neighbor know when you'll be gone and how to reach you. This will leave trustworthy eyes watching your house while you're away. You can also check with the National Neighborhood Watch Program (link to: https://www.nnw.org/) to see if there is a group in your area.

For more ideas on keeping your home secure, talk with your local police department or see if they list tips on their website. Then enjoy peace of mind the next time you're on vacation, at work, or tucked into bed, knowing you've taken important measures to keep your valuables, your home, and your family safe.

Keeping your home protected is just one part of keeping your valuables secure. Financial security, including identity theft prevention, is also important. For tips related to credit card and account security, talk with a Westfield Bank expert at your local branch (link to locations) or call 800.368.8930 today.

¹ "Burglary Statistics: The Hard Numbers of Home Invasion," National Council for Home Safety and Security, https://www.alarms.org/burglary-statistics/, accessed June 14, 2018