An overstuffed curbside mailbox, blazing porch light at noon, or a pile of newspapers out there by your front door all indicate a couple of things Morris County homeowners would do well to avoid. For burglars and housebreakers of all stripes, these are like lighted billboards announcing:
- This Morris County homeowner is off somewhere enjoying a nice summer vacation; and
- This afternoon and/or evening, there’s nobody home!
Every Morris County homeowner deserves an extended break now and then—and the July/August weather makes now the ideal time for many—but it’s also high season for break-and-enter artists (or just ‘enter’ artists, since 34% of burglars walk in through the front door). As long as we’re discussing the percentages, the common assumption that break-ins are midnight outings doesn’t hold water. Sixty-five percent of burglaries happen in broad daylight; most between 10am-3pm.
For vacation-bound locals, a few precautionary steps will do much to avoid a miserable discovery on your return home. If your home is currently listed, I think it’s a good idea to notify your agent to add a “Do Not Disturb Occupants” rider under the “For Sale” sign (whether it’s occupied or not!). In general, here are another six good vacation safety tips:
- Recruit some trusted neighborly help to keep an eye on the place and gather any mail and newspaper overflow. Most Morris Countyites are delighted to help—and you should offer to reciprocate.
- DON’T POST VACATION PIX on Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media haunt until you get back. High among leading vacation safety no-no’s are tweets like, “Off to Maui!”
- Think like a thief (that is, take a few minutes to case the joint). You’ll find yourself securing little-used doors and windows that are usually unlocked.
- Either unplug automatic garage doors that can be triggered by remote control frequency scanner or install a deadbolt lock.
- Do a better job of hiding the spare key. Thieves know all the common places. A spare key can be a vacation safety backstop if you need to phone someone to help get into the house in an emergency, but a spare key under the flowerpot is asking for trouble. Best hiding place: inside an envelope you entrust to your neighbor.
- Cancel deliveries. An Amazon Prime carton beside the front gate is a commonplace—but when one or more remain uncollected for more than 24 hours, it’s a virtual invitation to the unscrupulous.
Even for Morris County neighborhoods that are safer than most, vacation time burglaries can happen anywhere and anytime that basic vacation safety precautions aren’t observed. A few minutes of prevention should yield added peace of mind while you’re on the road as well as a pleasant return to a safely secured home. I’ll be standing by to help when you start planning the more extended kind of outing: to your next Morris County home!