The airline tickets are booked, the bags are packed and your family is finally about to head out on a much-needed, long-anticipated vacation, but that doesn’t mean you can forget about home sweet home just yet. Take a bit of time to follow these tips to deter a potential break-in and avoid home heartbreak.


Deterring a potential intruder can be as simple as flicking on a switch. Mimic your daily routine by putting the interior house lights on a timer, that way from the outside it looks like business as usual inside. Installing external motion-detector lights also means sneaking up on the house is not an option.


While leaving notes on the backdoor (or on the counter that can be clearly seen from a window) for your dog sitter, gardener, caretaker or neighbour may be tempting when running out to catch your plane, don’t — it’s the clearest indication that no one’s home. The same goes for social-media sites. Do not broadcast your cool vacation plans online, as tempting as it is.


If it looks and sounds like somebody’s home, burglars aren’t going to risk breaking and entering. Set up a radio or mp3 player on a timer so that it periodically plays music during normal waking hours. Place it by a likely entry point, such the backdoor or ground-floor window.


Intruders often check out a property a few times before making a move — a phone repeatedly ringing off the hook screams no one’s home. Put your landline on the lowest volume setting or call your telephone provider to see if they have a straight-to-messaging-system service that can be turned on while you’re out of town.


Newspapers piled on the lawn and flyers sticking out of the mail slot say, “I really like coupons and keeping up with current events but not right now because I’m on holiday.” Ask a neighbour to pick up any freebees that might be tossed into your driveway. Get your mail held at the post office and suspend your newspaper-delivery service while you’re away.


One of the reasons your family booked a trip to Hawaii (lucky you!) was to avoid that cold, white stuff for 10 days — but just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Keeping your paths clear of snow and ice is a clear sign someone’s at home, so arrange for prompt removal before heading out. Plus, in case of an emergency, crews can get to your front door easily.


When leaving your home for an extended length of time, it’s a good idea to draw the curtains and blinds to the level you’d normally have them so nothing looks out of order. If you raise and lower them throughout the day, keep them closed at the back of the house in case a would-be burglar is looking for movement, but open them up at the front so neighbours can spot and report any suspicious activity.

Following these lived-in tips will greatly reduce the risk of a break-in and lower your stress levels while on vacation, which was the point of going away in the first place, wasn’t it?

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