When you’re getting ready for vacation, most of the time your family is planning what to pack, the activities you want to do when you get there, and the other exciting parts of getting away for a few days or so. What you might forget to think about is how secure your home and possessions will be while you’re laying on the beach.

A burglar’s goal is to get into a house, steal valuables, and exit as quickly as possible without being seen. A family away on vacation is a perfect opportunity. Instead of stressing about your home being burglarized, enjoy your travels in peace by following these pro tips for securing your home:

Talk to Your Neighbors

Communicating with your neighbors is key to making the neighborhood a fun and safe place to live for everyone. Get to know the people living around you so that you feel comfortable calling them before you go away to let them know. Create relationships where, if one of you goes away for a few days or so, then the others can keep an eye on the house. Here are a few other tips for how you and your neighbors can help each other out:

  • Let them know that they can park in your driveway or have friends park there. This will make the house look lived in, and the more you can make it look like there are people coming and going, the less likely your house will be targeted.
  • Grab the mail – A full mailbox indicates to burglars that there is no one home. Offer to get your neighbors’ mail when they’re on vacation, and they’ll be likely to do the same for your family. A second option is to ask your post office to hold your mail for the days that you’ll be gone, but sometimes it’s easier to ask a friend or neighbor.
  • Pay someone to plow your driveway or mow your lawn – An overgrown yard or snowy driveway tells potential thieves that no one has been home in a while.
  • Ask a friend to check in – Have someone you trust stop by the house a few times while you’re gone to check on everything.
  • Report any suspicious behavior – Always have an open line of communication with each other. If anyone sees something shady in your neighborhood, have a system for telling each other and possibly notifying the police. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Tricking a Thief

There are a few other ways you can trick a burglar into thinking someone is home. Remember that burglars aren’t looking for a confrontation – they want an easy job with little chance of getting caught.

  • Set automatic lights – Put your lights (inside and outside) to go on and off a few times throughout the night and day, or install a motion sensor exterior light. Bonus tip: Check to see if any streetlights are out near your house. If so, contact your electricity company for a repair.
  • Don’t change too much about your home – A yard that normally has a hose, toys, tennis balls, and other things lying around should stay that way when you go on vacation. A would-be burglar might notice if suddenly your yard looks empty, the blinds are drawn, and the cars are out of the driveway.
  • Hide all cash and valuables left at home – You should never leave anything valuable around the house where it’s visible from the outside, but this is especially true while on vacation. Check out some of these unique secret safes you can test out.
  • Install window break alarms – This won’t necessarily make a burglar think you’re home, but it will make them think twice about entering your home.

Keep Quiet on Social Media

Tempted to post a Facebook or Twitter photo of you and your family at the airport en route to Mexico? Or post a status update about how you’re currently sitting on a beach in Spain with a strawberry daiquiri? Don’t do it. Burglars use social media too.

Even if your photo doesn’t explicitly say you’re away from your house, anyone can look up the GPS coordinates of a posted photo. Try it out on one of your own photos to see for yourself.

Set Your Home Security System

If you don’t already have a home security system, you might want to think about installing one while you plan for your vacation. Even if you forget to do all of the above, and it’s obvious that your family has left for the week, a security system can deter burglars from targeting your home. On the other hand, houses that don’t have a security system installed are 300% more likely to be broken into. Don’t give burglars the green light to break into your home.

Let your alarm company know that you’ll be away. You should also check that you have a sign outside your home or in your window advertising that your house is protected by a security system.

Implement these pro tips and strategies the next time you go on vacation. Whether you’re getting away for a weekend or a two week vacation, enjoy your trip worry-free!