Clever (and inexpensive) ways to protect your home while on holiday
Your ticket is booked, your beach gear is ready and you have already had a million daydreams about your upcoming holiday and all the pina colada’s you will consume from the comfort of your beach lounger. But have you considered home security while you are away?
Nobody likes to think of the worst case scenario but with the staggering crime rate in South Africa, we have to. Alarm systems and other high-tech security options don’t come cheap, so what can you do if you are on a limited budget but want peace of mind while you enjoy your glorious, well- deserved holiday?
Let’s look at some low cost ways to ensure your home is safe while you are away.
- The obvious stuff:Putting your lights, radio and a television on a timer will help give the impression that someone is home. Cancel post or arrange to have someone pick it up regularly while you are away. Make sure your garden is burglar proof by putting away ladders, tools and anything they might be able to use. Take your landline phone off the hook, an endlessly ringing phone is a big clue that someone is not home.
- Rediscover the fun of hide and seek: with your valuablesCriminals tend to target areas in the home that are likely to have valuables. Master bedrooms, a study and the living room are where they will devote the majority of their time. Clever hiding places for valuables include; kids bedrooms and the kitchen. If you have a well stocked pantry, consider hiding your valuables inside food containers. If your kids have ample toys, consider hiding valuables inside a toy box. There are all kinds of DIY projects for hiding valuables inside books or even creating a false drawer bottom.
- Free surveillance equipment:That old webcam is a useful tool for your home fortress. There are dozens of home surveillance programs that use a simple webcam to detect movement in your home while you are away. AtHome Camera is one of the most popular and is free. Just hook up to the live feed and check in on your home from the comfort of your beach lounger!
- Let the Joneses outdo you – from the pavement view anyway:There’s a doormat design that claims “The neighbours have better stuff”, and it is truly the image you want to project. Thieves will thoroughly inspect the neighbourhood to see where they will get the best returns. And some of their criteria is surprising, if a house has tasteful exterior the inhabitants are more likely to have a house full of nice things worth stealing. So, tone down the view from the street as far as possible and be sure that absolutely nothing valuable is visible from the street.
- No Fido? Go all out and fake it:Dogs are a serious deterrent for criminals. But getting a dog is a serious commitment and not something that everyone has the time and resources to do. Luckily, you can fake having a dog quite convincingly. There are plenty of dog barking sound tracks available all over the internet for free. Playing them on a loop will give the impression you have an angry watchdog inside. Add a “beware of the dog sign” and for added realism, spread dog toys around the front of your property.
- Give them something to steal: and track them downWho doesn’t love the idea of catching a criminal with their own masterful efforts in home security? Repurpose an old laptop and install a program called Prey on it. Leave the laptop in plain view. Criminals always go for an easy, quick win. Prey works by tracking the location of the user, so should that decoy be stolen, you will be able to find the crooks.
If you’re going to be away for a long time; it’s worth having someone come and check on your home periodically. Also, prepare for the worst by doing a detailed inventory of what valuables you have in your home. Include photo’s and serial numbers and ensure that your insurance will cover what is necessary.
Use these tips to secure your home and go and enjoy that marvellous holiday with the peace of mind that your home is safe.