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 Sebastopol homeowners would do well to avoid. For burglars and housebreakers of all stripes, these are like lighted billboards announcing:
- This Sebastopol homeowner is off somewhere enjoying a nice summer vacation; and
- This afternoon and/or evening, there’s nobody home!
Every Sebastopol 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, we 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 Sebastopolites 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 Sebastopol 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. We will be standing by to help when you start planning the more extended kind of outing: to your next Sebastopol home!