Don’t for­get home se­cu­rity dur­ing the sea­son

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - HOMES - LEAH NAPOLIELLO

Be dis­creet about who you share your va­ca­tion de­tails with. Be care­ful about post­ing your va­ca­tion plans and desti­na­tion on so­cial me­dia, as bur­glars can use the in­for­ma­tion to find out when you will be away.

Dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son, travel is com­mon as peo­ple visit fam­ily and friends, or check out ex­cit­ing va­ca­tion spots. Un­for­tu­nately, with many peo­ple trav­el­ing or busy with hol­i­day shop­ping, bur­glar­ies tend to rise at this time of year, too.

In ad­di­tion to porch pi­rates steal­ing pack­ages, bur­glars are on the look­out for va­cant homes, so the Bet­ter Busi­ness Bureau of Greater Hous­ton and South Texas is of­fer­ing tips to pro­tect your home while you are away:

• Be dis­creet about who you share your va­ca­tion de­tails with. Be care­ful about post­ing your va­ca­tion plans and desti­na­tion on so­cial me­dia, as bur­glars can use the in­for­ma­tion to find out when you will be away. If you do share in­for­ma­tion, be aware of your pri­vacy set­tings and who is able to view your posts. Let­ting oth­ers know your house will be empty could be enough to at­tract un­wanted at­ten­tion, so be care­ful about broad­cast­ing your travel plans.

• Con­sider in­stalling a home se­cu­rity sys­tem. A home se­cu­rity sys­tem, a se­cu­rity cam­era, or even just ex­te­rior lights that run on timers can in­crease se­cu­rity. Re­search home se­cu­rity in­stall­ers at BBBHous­ton.org.

• Lock up. Of course this seems ob­vi­ous, but it’s easy to for­get things like win­dows and out­side doors. If you keep a win­dow un­locked to al­low your pet easy ac­cess, or never bother to turn the dead­bolt on your kitchen door, now is the time to start. Don’t make it easy for bur­glars to gain ac­cess.

• Con­sider a house sit­ter or pet sit­ter. The best way to make sure your house is safe is to have some­one you trust stay over, but if that is not pos­si­ble, you may ask a rel­a­tive or trusted friend or neigh­bor to wa­ter plants, feed pets and pick up the news­pa­per.

• Check your smoke and car­bon monox­ide de­tec­tors pe­ri­od­i­cally. Smoke and car­bon monox­ide de­tec­tors should be checked reg­u­larly and bat­ter­ies re­placed an­nu­ally. This is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant if pets re­main in your home while you are on va­ca­tion. If an alarm goes off, you want some­one to hear it and at­tend to your pets.

• Hold your mail. If you’re leav­ing for more than a cou­ple days and don’t have any­one to get your mail, call your lo­cal post of­fice to stop mail de­liv­ery un­til you get back.

• Un­plug elec­tron­ics. Dis­con­nect­ing the power to some of your elec­tron­ics, like your com­puter, cof­fee pot and tele­vi­sion can save your money while you’re gone and elim­i­nate the worry that you’ve ac­ci­den­tally left them on by mis­take. Turn­ing off your garage door opener is also an ef­fec­tive way to keep thieves from open­ing it with a uni­ver­sal re­mote.

• Keep hedges and bushes around your home trimmed. This will pre­vent bur­glars from hav­ing a place to hide around your home. Con­sider hir­ing some­one to take care of the land­scap­ing chores in your ab­sence. It will help make your home look as if it’s be­ing kept up. Make your home look lived in. To help cre­ate the il­lu­sion that the res­i­dence is still oc­cu­pied, in­vest in timers that turn on the in­te­rior lights for a few hours ev­ery even­ing.The Bet­ter Busi­ness Bureau is an un­bi­ased non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that sets and up­holds high stan­dards for fair and hon­est busi­ness be­hav­ior. Visit www.bbbhous­ton.org or call 713-868-9500. Leah Napoliello is se­nior di­rec­tor of In­ves­tiga­tive Ser­vices with the BBB of Greater Hous­ton and South Texas. Send ques­tions to Leah Napoliello, Bet­ter Busi­ness Bureau, 1333 West Loop South, Suite 1200, Hous­ton, TX 77027, or e-mail [email protected]­hou.org. In­clude your mail­ing ad­dress and phone num­ber.

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