If you're planning to spend some time away from home, or you have a rental or vacation property that does not have a current occupant, it's important to consider security. You do not want your house, whether home or investment property, to be burglarized while you are gone. Not only do you risk having valuables stolen, but you risk your personal state of mind. Thefts are invasive and will leave you feeling vulnerable long after the event. That's why it's important to consider home security, not only when you're in your house, condo, apartment, etc. but also when you are out of town.
There are some physical investments you can make to protect your home, and there are also some common sense things to think about.
Physical Home Security for a Vacant House
Many people choose to invest in home security systems, complete with video surveillance and burglar alerts. Thanks to the internet and cell phones, it's easier than ever to keep an eye on your place while you're gone.
For example, you can install indoor and outdoor internet security cameras, which allow you to log onto a special password-protected website from anywhere in the world to see what your camera is seeing at any given time. You can be on vacation in Europe and see what is going on in your backyard in Seattle.
Also, you can get home security systems that will alert you via cell phone or email, as well as alerting the local police station, if the alarm is tripped in the house. Again, even if you are on the other side of the world, it is easier than ever to check up on your home.
Common Sense Home Security for a Vacant House
Aside from alarm systems and security cameras, there are a number of common-sense security measures you should take when you are out of town or when no one is occupying your rental home. (Vacation homeowners should take special note, as when you are talking about a house in a rural area that is some distance from the neighbors, it is at more risk because it is an easier target than a condo in the city for example.)
First off, keep in touch with the neighbors, even if they live down the road a bit. If you're out of town or your vacation home is going to be occupied, let them know so they can be alert and watch for any suspicious activity that might place.
For short-term absences, it may be worth hiring a house sitter to close the curtains at night and open them in the morning and also to keep the front yard looking neat and cared for. This helps give the passerby the impression that someone is living there. You may also ask a neighbor to keep a car parked in your driveway, if they have an extra, since an empty driveway is more of a sign that a house may be unoccupied.
Consider automatic timers for indoor lights, so they come on at different times each night, and motion sensors for outdoor floodlights (a house that is vacant is a more appealing target, so do not let would-be thieves know your home is vacant) .
Either have someone pick up your newspaper and mail daily or have delivery halted until you are home. In most areas the post office will hold your mail for up to a month.
Lastly, try to make your house an unappealing target by hiding valuables from plain sight before you leave. Do not tempt burglars with plasma TVs, flat screen computer monitors, laptop computers, iPods, and other tantalizing valuables within plain view of the front window.
Take these home security precautions, and your empty house is more likely to stay burglar-free while you are away.