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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Prevent burglary while on vacation

David Bauer Spokane Home Builders Association

You’ve worked hard all year and looked forward to your summer vacation. It is finally here! But, you’re concerned because you’ve heard the horror stories about people returning home to find their house has been burglarized and their possessions gone. What do you do to keep this from happening to you? To help put your mind at rest so you can relax and enjoy your vacation, it will be necessary to take some security precautions on your property. Here are a few tips:

Secure Your Home

Statistics show that in over 40 percent of residential burglaries, the thieves just walked in through an unlocked door or crawled through an unlocked window. Be sure you have locked and bolted all your doors and windows before leaving home.

•Sliding glass doors need special devices to make them secure. A wooden dowel in the track or a nail inserted through a hole drilled in the sliding door frame and projecting into the fixed frame will secure the door as well. Commercial locks are also available.

•Double-hung windows can be locked by sliding a bolt or nail through a hole drilled at a downward angle in each top corner of the inside sash and part-way through the outside sash. Window key locks and grilles for basement or street-level windows are available at a home supply store.

•Garage doors are harder to secure, so it is important to treat the inside door from the garage into the house like an outside door. Lock and bolt the inside door to protect the house from intrusion.

•Explore the possibility of an alarm system. The simplest systems available set up a small electrical circuit across door locks and window frames. When the current is interrupted, the alarm sounds. There are alarm systems that alert police of break-ins and include smoke and fire alarms and “help” buttons for medical emergencies.

Make It Look Like You’re Home

With these security precautions in place, it is also important to make your home appear to be occupied:

•Leave something outside to give the appearance you are still at home. Gardening tools, children’s toys or a water hose can all give that impression.

•Leave your draperies and blinds open.

•Put inside and outside lights, radios and televisions on timers set according to your normal schedule.

•The message on your telephone answering machine should be worded so callers will not know you are away. You may want to forward your phone calls to another number while you are away.

•Stop your mail and newspaper deliveries.

•Continue your lawn grooming service.

•Make sure shrubs and trees that cover windows and doors are trimmed so a burglar cannot use them as cover to get into the house.

•Ask for help watching your home.

•Let your trusted neighbors know you will be out of town so they can watch the property and “fake” activity at your home. They can take out the trash or move the car in the driveway periodically to give the appearance you are home.

•Call the police department to let them know you will be gone and ask them to patrol the property. Many police departments will provide officers to review your security plan and give suggestions about how to prevent a burglary.

•Before you leave, take a critical look at your home to see that it is secure and gives no indication you will be gone for an extended period. Taking care of these details should reduce your chances of being burglarized. Contact your local police or sheriff’s department for more information about what you can do to protect your property.

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