How to Burglar-Proof Your House While You’re on Vacation

In my aging wisdom, I have started to question why the McCallisters of Home Alone were victim of perpetual thievery. It’s simple: Forgetting that this is a work of fiction and that the bad guys are a little dim, the McCallister’s must not have prepped their house properly.

But this is the real world, where parents don’t leave their children behind and criminals are not inherent buffoons. Before you set out on your next Vacation Quest trip, there’s more to do than just lock your doors.

Keeping Up Appearances

Burglars look for signs of absence and target houses accordingly. When you’re gone, make arrangements to have someone cover for you or get most of it accomplished before you leave, depending on the task:

  • Mow the lawn, shovel your driveway and clean gutters just before you leave.
  • Have a neighbor collect your mail and newspaper. You can also suspend your mail and newspaper for days that you’ll be away, just let them know or do so online.
  • Make sure your outdoor plants get water.
  • Keep indoor lights on a timer.
  • Lock everything, including doors and windows.

Make your house look like someone is living there, even when you’re on vacation.

Don’t Make Yourself a Target

KTVB of Idaho did a terrific report on burglars that gets into the motives behind break-ins. They went straight to the source: inmates serving time for burglary. It’s a great read and it expands on some of the items listed above, but they note that some of your actions might unintentionally tell a burglar that your house would make a good target:

  • Displaying a sign that indicates worth in your belongings (ex. if you have a nice car, it could mean you have a lot of money; if you have an NRA bumper sticker, it could mean you have a lot of guns).
  • Having cheap wooden doors or window frames, making it easy to break open.
  • Having high fences and thick foliage, making it easy to hide. The more open your property is, the better.
  • Broadcasting your travel plans on social media and dates you’ll be gone.

And you aren’t immune to a break-in just because you have security signs and alarms, as some intruders know how to disarm them. The extra level of security is still good to have.

You should always have a neighbor on the lookout when you leave town.

Biggest Deterrents

The KTVB report also listed some of the best ways you can keep burglars at bay:

  • Get to know your neighbors and make sure they report any suspicious activity.
  • Have TVs or radios playing whenever possible.
  • Keep at least one car in the driveway to make it look like someone is home.

Many people assume that burglaries spike during the holidays since people like to travel, but there is evidence to suggest otherwise. On top of that, most of these tips are pretty easy to put into practice, so you can implement them every time you plan on taking a trip, not just holidays. We can’t all have crafty 8-year-olds defending the house from intruders while we’re away.

There’s much more to discuss with this topic, but we’d love to hear your tips in the comment section.

Corey is a writer from Overland Park, KS, and has been with Vacation Quest since September. Once a sportswriter, he traveled the country and became proficient in airport security line etiquette and leaving items in hotel rooms.