8 Ways to Make It Look Like You’re Home And Fool Burglars
Any home-security expert will tell you would-be burglars know how to spot the signs someone is out of town. Stay one step ahead of the bad guys by acting on these tips before you leave.
Install Motion Sensor Lights
It’s no secret the last thing a burglar wants to do is attract attention. So there’s a good chance something unexpected — be it an alarm, a barking dog, or even a sudden flood of light — will be enough to send him away empty-handed. And even when you’re not home, there are ways to catch these crooks off guard.
“While no technology will completely deter all would-be criminals, lighting is an easy way to make a big difference in keeping a home safe and secure,” says Brad Paine, vice president and general manager of Connected Homes at Eaton’s Lighting Division. So install a motion activated light that can detect movement around the perimeter of your house, and make sure it’s activated the whole time you’re away.
Add Vacation Mode Lighting
To a potential burglar, a dark house means an empty house. To make it look like you’re home, your lights should be on at the approximate times you’d normally be there.
With a smart lighting system, you can time your lights to turn on and off automatically. Some vacation lighting systems even offer dimming options and other nuanced settings that reinforce the illusion someone is home.
“Have the lights turn on in the morning, dim the indoor lights in the evening, and have them turn off at night when you would normally be asleep,” Paine says. “Or even randomize the on/off timing to keep would-be intruders guessing.”
Try Remote-Controlled Lighting
Today, it couldn’t be easier to monitor your home from afar. All you need is your smartphone to access most smart lighting systems.
“Many smart lights and connected lighting systems now allow for remote-access capabilities, where you can turn lights on and off using a smartphone — whether you’re at the office or enjoying a day at the beach,” Paine says.
Make sure your remote-controlled lighting doesn’t backfire, though. The goal, Paine says, is to “mimic human activity.” If all of your lights turn on or off at the same time, burglars might sense that something is amiss. The same goes for having your outdoor lights on during the day.
Take TV Time
If you’ll only be gone for the day, consider leaving your television on while you’re out. Most burglars will be reluctant to break in if they hear noise coming from your house or see the glow of a television screen.
If you’re going on a longer trip and understandably reluctant to leave the TV on for that long, a FakeTV device mimics the flickering light of a TV. Program these devices to kick in at sundown or remain on during the day. Even the sound of a radio or music playing should be enough to make the bad guys think twice.
Park a Car in the Driveway
A good relationship with your neighbors can be paramount when it’s time to leave your house for a few days. If you’re going on a trip that will leave your driveway empty, ask one of your neighbors or a family member if they’d mind parking their car in your driveway, at least for some of the time.
Sure, burglars may know a car in the driveway doesn’t guarantee someone’s home. But chances are, they won’t risk it.
Take Care of Newspapers and Mail
An overflowing mailbox or untouched newspapers in the driveway offer instant burglar bait. Before you head out, contact the post office and request they hold your mail until you return. This is another reason to enlist helpful neighbors. Ask someone on your street to pick up your mail and papers.
Particularly sneaky burglars may even leave a flyer or restaurant menu at your door and note how long it takes you to retrieve it. Tell your neighbors to keep an eye out for that, too.
Look Into Lawn Maintenance
If you’re taking a vacation to escape the winter, you’ll probably need to take some extra precautions to keep your house incognito. Potential crooks will notice if yours is the only lawn in the neighborhood with no tracks in the snow.
Ask a neighbor to traipse through fresh snow, or to shovel or use a snowblower if it’s deep enough. Even this simple action can fool a burglar. No matter what time of year, consider asking someone to watch your yard, especially if you’ll be gone long enough for your lawn and vegetation to look overgrown.
Beware of Your Blinds
Bad news: Burglars peek in through your blinds. If you leave them open wide, it might take crooks only a single peek to realize there’s nobody home.
Try to leave them cracked, at least the ones in the ground floor windows. If you live in an area particularly prone to burglaries, consider investing in an automation kit that can open and shut them on a timer.