July and August are target months for residential break-ins.

Nothing is more exciting than packing and getting ready for that much needed summer vacation to “get away from it all.”  Unfortunately, some vacationers will find “it all” no longer there when they return home. The FBI warns that July and August are the worst months for home break-ins.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, more than 2.15 million burglaries occur each year and more than 65 percent of them are residential break-ins. Before taking that well-deserved trip, AAA Oklahoma advises travelers to prepare their homes against burglary.

“Summer vacation plans can quickly turn into a disaster for travelers who fail to execute a plan to protect their home while they are away,” warned Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “AAA advises homeowners to safeguard all property while away from home, including not posting detailed status updates online in social media forums and making their homes as burglar-proof as possible.”

Online Tips to Protect Your Property

One of the biggest mistakes travelers make today is advertising their travel plans and whereabouts on social media sites.  Broadcasting your location information and posting photos while on vacation is like handing the key to your house to potential thieves. 

•Even if you are not “bragging” about your vacation details, social media settings can display your location online.  It’s best for travelers to completely log out and wait to log back in once home or make sure privacy and location settings are restricted.

•Don’t say you are on vacation on voice mail. Likewise, make sure your family and children do not use an e-mail auto response noting you are out of town. Cyber crooks issue mass mailings in hopes of receiving these automatic reply messages and cross check them with online directories to determine where you live.

•Only share details and photos of your trip after returning home.

Offline Tips to Protect Your Property

Remember, a “lived-in” look is the single most important deterrent against burglars. Pretend that you are a burglar. Try to think the way they would and walk around your house, inside and out, to find potential weak spots.

•Use timers on your lights, radios and televisions.

•Keep your grass cut.

•If you don’t stop your paper or mail delivery — make sure a neighbor or trusted friend collects them as a pile of newspapers on the driveway can tip off burglars.

•Park an extra car outside and ask a trusted family member to move it from time to time.

•Don’t leave garage door openers inside vehicles that will be parked outside the house.

•Ask your family or trusted neighbor to get boxes, etc. if you expect deliveries while you are gone.

•Don’t let the trash pile up.

•Use flood lights and motion detectors. Keeping your lights on during the day time is a dead give-away that you’re not at home.

•Look through your windows and see what valuables are in plain sight. If you can see any special possessions, move them out of clear sight.

•Store your valuables in non-traditional places such as the bathroom or attic. Burglars tend to want to get out quickly, so they go to the most likely room in the house first.

Before You Leave

•Take an inventory — use a video camera to video all of your possessions — everything from furniture to jewelry to stereo equipment and televisions. Then be sure to review and update your insurance coverage.

•If possible, get an alarm system. They are a great deterrent to burglars. You may also receive a discount on your insurance rates.

•Don’t forget to protect yourself from identity theft while on vacation by tracking your credit and finances with a monitoring service.

Be aware that not all of your valuables will be covered by homeowners insurance in the event of a burglary. There are limits on the amount of coverage you receive for valuables such as jewelry, antiques, business property and art, but you can purchase endorsements that will add extra protection. If you do become a victim of a home invasion, call 911 right away and report the crime.  Once you have the police report, call your homeowners insurance agency to file a claim for property theft and damages.

“Protecting our assets at home and while away from home is key to a successful vacation,” Mai said. “A failure to plan ahead can lead to disappointing financial losses and a sour ending to a sweet vacation.”

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