Vacation Crime Prevention Tips

Summer is upon us. Planning a get-away? Madison County Sheriff Allen Riley is sharing some tips to think about before you head out.

After you have planned your itinerary and before packing your bags, you still need to consider how to best protect your home while on vacation. You don’t want to think something bad will happen, but it is always best to be prepared, just in case. The advice you should consider on how to best protect your home while it is unattended, is that you should do everything you can in order to make it look like there are still people and signs of activity in the home. How so?

Have good locks on all doors and windows - and use them.

Consider installing motion activated lights around your home if you don’t already have them.

Technology is great! Front door bells with tiny cameras link to your smartphone, or a standalone wireless webcam - so you can see who's at the door even if you're not home. There is a lot of new technology that allows you to control your indoor lights by your smart phone too!

Use timers to turn lights and a radio or television on and off at appropriate times.

Make sure your residence looks lived in, not empty. Leave shades and blinds in a normal position.

Ask a neighbor to watch your residence while you are away. Leave your vacation address and telephone number with a neighbor so you can be reached in case of an emergency.

Test your smoke and burglar alarms.

Notify the U.S. Postal Service, UPS and FedEx to hold deliveries while you are away. Still have the newspaper delivered? Let them know too. If you cannot, arrange for a neighbor to pick up your mail, newspaper and packages.

Large bushes and shrubs near doors are great hiding spots, so move them or keep them trimmed if you can. Arrange for someone to mow your lawn, rake leaves and maintain the yard to give the home a lived-in look.

If you can, have a neighbor place garbage cans at the curb on your normal pick up day(s) and return them after the garbage pickup is made.

If you have call forwarding on your telephone, forward your calls to your cell phone, a trusted friend or relative. If you don’t have this feature, turn the phone ringer down as low as it can go (but remember to turn it back up when you return).

Close and lock garage doors and windows. Ask a neighbor to occasionally park in your driveway.

If you leave your car at home, park it as you normally would. Vehicles parked outside should be moved occasionally to appear that they are being used.

Consider taking valuables to a bank safety deposit box for safekeeping until you get home.

Ask your local police to place your home on their vacation check list. For Madison County residents, you may do so by call the Sheriff’s Office at 315-366-2318.

Don’t announce your absence on answering machine messages; leave your normal message on the machine.

And a word about social media: you want to tell all your friends about your exciting travels, and check in on Facebook at well-known spots, but try to resist the urge. Let common sense prevail. Take pictures and share them when you get home!

Sheriff Riley recommends checking with your insurance company, home improvement centers, or electronic stores for more ideas or suggestions on home security.