With summer nearly here and kids out of school, it’s time to pack up the car and head of on vacation. Nobody wants to come home after a long trip to find their house has been broken into. So with that in mind, here are some easy tips to keep your home a little safer while you’re gone.

Ask a neighbor to watch things for you. This might be the easiest most effective thing you can do. An eagle eyed neighbor is often the first line of defense against a home break in. Not only can they notice if anyone is hanging around that should not be, but they can take care of things like picking up newspapers, mail, or packages that might tip thieves off to the house being unoccupied. IF you are not familiar enough with your neighbors to ask, then call your local police department. They’ll send a patrol through periodically, and they extra police presence may be enough to deter thieves.

Stop the mail. Like we said, the easiest way a thief can tell you been gone for a while is a full mailbox or packages left on the door step. You can have the USPS stop delivery for up to a month and when you come home, they’ll deliver everything you missed right to your door. You can do the same for UPS and FedEx, though you’ll have to retrieve you packages from a pickup location.

Get timers for your lights. A house that house been dark for several days is a flashing light for criminals that you’re gone, and leaving on random light on the whole time isn’t much better. Get timers that plugs into a wall outlet so that you can have different lights come on at different times. If you want an extra layer of protection, do it for a tv or radio to add flickering lights and sound.

Stay off social media. It seems like everybody has a social networking account of some sort and while it’s tempting to post your vacation pics as they happen, they are essentially an advertisement to people that you aren’t home. While you would hope nobody in your circle of friends or family would rob you, you may have some sketchy dude you went to high school with and forgot was on your friends list just might. Post the vacation pics, just wait until you get back.

Lock everything and throw away the key. While it may sound like common sense to lock your doors when you leave the house, and it is, you’d be surprised how many people have an entry to their home unlocked. Going through and double checking to make sure every window and door in the house and garage, if you have one, is locked can make a difference. You never know when someone may have opened a window because it was a nice day or someone burned something on the stove and just forgot to lock it back. By the same token, if you have a spare key hidden, get rid of it. If a thief knows you aren’t home, they have plenty of time to poke around looking for it.

Many of us look forward to summer break to get out of town and spend time with our friends and families. Before you leave, take a little extra time to protect your belongings so they’ll be there when you get back home.

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