Going on a vacation is wonderful and you deserve it. Coming home to find that your home has been broken into will make all those good times be forgotten in an instant. One of the times your home is most vulnerable is when it is left empty for an extended period of time such as when the occupants are on vacation or on extended business trips. Darkened windows, unretrieved mail or newspapers and closed windows in hotter weather all tell of your absence to a potential burglar. The best protection for your house or apartment during your absence is to have a house sitter. A friend you trust staying at your house can take care of your pets and/or plants in addition to making sure the house is occupied. Of course this scenario is not always an option. Here are some precautions that should be taken by the owner or inhabitants to take before leaving on their trip away from home. • Have a neighbor check on your apartment or house while you’re away – turning on lights, radios or TVs and opening and closing curtains will give your apartment or house the appearance of someone home. • If you don’t have a friend or neighbor to house sit or check your apartment while you’re away – perhaps even if you do – you should keep not only lights on but also a TV or radio on at all times unless you have a timer which is recommended.

If you’re like many others you have your TV on almost all the time you’re home, not for viewing but just as background noise. It is the absence of the sound and that blueish light in the windows that announces you’re not there. Using readily available timers you could also have lights, radios, and TV’s going on and off at different times adding to the illusion to a potential thief that someone is home. • Make sure whoever is checking your apartment or house while you’re away knows how to work any alarm system and who to call in case of a problem. • Unless you have a house sitter, stop your mail by notifying the post office and any newspapers or other items that are delivered to your home on a regular basis. Nothing broadcasts an empty apartment or house better than a stack of newspapers or an overflowing mailbox. Ask a nearby neighbor if they could pick up any packages that happens to be delivered any way while you’re gone. • If you have a garden or plants on your balcony, make sure someone is watering the plants regularly or put the plants where they can’t be seen.

Plants slowly dying due to lack of water may announce your absence to the would be thief.

• If you rent check your lease. Many landlords require that you notify them if your apartment is going to be left empty for any period of time so they can enter in case of emergency even if they can’t reach you. Naturally if you’ve got a house sitter this isn’t necessary. • If you are away from home in winter make arrangements to have your place shoveled and plowed. If you are away during the warmer months make arrangements for someone to mow your lawn if it looks like it needs some attention. Of course, many of these recommendations are just common sense. With a little planning ahead and thinking on your part you can make sure there are no nasty surprises when you return from you vacation or business trip.