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.