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American Homeowners Association



Don't Let a Burglar Ruin Your Vacation

Burglary 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 dollars.

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 the following:

  • 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.

  • Install 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.

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