Life can hand you some major upsets, but some are somewhat within our control. Especially in the summer months, when many of us go on a vacation, visit family and friends, our homes are more prone to break-ins and burglaries. Whether you’re enjoying a cocktail in Tulum or simply away at work, we’re sharing 9 ways that you might be making your home more vulnerable to intruders and how to make smarter home safety decisions.

  1. You leave mail or newspapers piling up: the first way that a potential burglar knows if the homeowners are away is by seeing an untouched pile of mail or newspapers at the front door. Solution: ask a neighbor, family member or friend to swing by to pick it up every so often.
  2. Your front door is unlocked, has a hollow core or a small strike plate: it seems almost too obvious but most intruders come through the front door. Since the majority of robberies happen between 6 am and 6 pm, it’s the easiest way for them to get in without being noticed. Solution: switch out your front door for sturdier option and most importantly, change out the strike plate (the part where the lock enters the door jamb to keep it secure).
  3. Your front door has glass and your alarm system is installed nearby: most alarm systems are installed near the front door but if you have a front door with glass, this often can give potential invaders the ability to see if your system is on or not. Solution: talk with your security company to find a more inconspicuous place to put the alarm system.
  4. You put packaging of expensive purchases near your trash bins: we all have done it before. You’ve just purchased a top-of-the-line flat screen tv and the last thing you want is that huge box in your house. In a hurry, you leave it next to your trash bins, accidentally signaling to others that you have something of high value in your home. Solution: get a box cutter, break it down and bundle it up so that others can’t see the brand name or labels.
  5. Let workers use your bathroom: as we mentioned previously, the majority of burglaries happen during the day. Burglars tend to be people that have come to your house previously under the guise of another profession – an electrician, a cleaner, a delivery person… By using your bathroom they have a chance to case the house and unlock a back window. Solution: when asked, apologize and say that your guest bathroom is currently out of order. If you prefer to let them use it, walk them to the bathroom and back and be sure to check the windows once they leave.
  6. You don’t know or aren’t friendly with your neighbors: close, tightknit communities, where neighbors know each other well are much less likely to get hit by robberies. We’d all love to live in a utopia where our neighbors are our best friends, which is rarely the case, but having a cordial relationship with them can work to your advantage. Solution: know their names, maintain a somewhat friendly relationship with them so that they can be a second pair of eyes while you are gone. If you’ll be away for a while let them know so that they can pay extra attention to any unusual activity. And have them pick up your mail while you’re at it.
  7. You don’t change your garage code or signal: an old garage remote left in the car, a codifier with the numbers worn down, or even an open garage…this is the part of the home we are least vigilant about when it comes to points of entry. Solution: change your remote’s signal (they can be easily duplicated) or code every so often. And be sure that your garage can’t be easily manually opened.
  8. Your backyard and front garden are dark: the lack of light with high bushes and shrubs makes it easier for intruders to hide and find an escape route. Solution: motion-activated floodlights make sure that your property remains illuminated when necessary without having to spend too much on electricity.
  9. You post your check-ins and photos on social media while you are away: you’re in a beautiful location with magnificent views – of course, you want to share it on Instagram! But the reality is that this is a relatively easy way to let everyone know that you’re not home. Solution: this one is tricky since completely abstaining from putting vacation photos on social isn’t always realistic. If possible create a private account for more personal images and never make status updates, plane tickets, or check-ins public.

Image from “7 Ways to Design Your Beach Home For Winter”, published on December 27, 2017.