Don't Let a Burglar Ruin Your Vacation
and other property thefts affect millions of Americans, according to the National
Crime Prevention Council. If you think it can't happen to you, think again. Experts
have estimated that 99% of us will be victims of some form of theft at least once
in our lifetimes.
Six million burglaries, 24 million other general property
thefts, and 2 million motor vehicle thefts took place in 1993, the most recent
year for which statistics are available. The larger the household, the greater
the risk of property crime. Households with six or more members had three times
the property crime rate of those with just one member. Property crime losses range
from little or nothing of value to materials costing hundreds of thousands of
Summer vacation season is the favorite season for burglars. Burglary
is a crime of opportunity, and a vacant home is easy pickings for an observant
criminal. Fortunately, we can take action to protect ourselves. The Burglary Prevention
Council suggests making your home look like it's occupied while you're away. Do
- Keep some window shades and blinds up or curtains
open--but keep valuables out of sight.
- Stop mail and newspaper deliveries
or have a neighbor pick them up so they don't pile up.
- Ask a neighbor
to use your trash cans while you're away.
- Don't indicate on your answering-machine
message that you'll be away; check and erase messages daily.
exterior lights that are out of reach of burglars, and place timers on indoor
lights and appliances. Put a timer on a radio set to a talk show or station.
- For longer trips, arrange to have outdoor landscaping continue.
Have a neighbor park a car in your driveway occasionally.
- Ask a neighbor
to keep an eye on your home.
Consider installing a security system. You might want to use a home equity loan to help pay for it.