‘Tis the season for holiday burglars

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 24, 2008



Going on a trip during the Christmas holidays?

Well, while you’re looking forward to that getaway, others, including burglars, are looking forward to your leaving.

With many people away, visiting friends, or just out of the house shopping for Christmas, burglars will have countless good prospects. Experts agree that it is a very vulnerable time for homeowners. “People are busy, distracted,” said Ray Palermo, director of public relations for Response Insurance. “They are not always focusing on the more mundane things of life, like making sure your home or apartment is secure.” He offered a few precautions to help prevent homeowners from falling victim to thieves during this time of year.

• Start by making a full exterior examination of your house. Make sure all locked doors and window have a tight fit when closed. Check to see if there is any “wiggle room” that could give a thief enough space to jimmy it open. Walk around your whole property to ensure there is nothing that can be used to climb to upper floors. Look in your windows to make sure blinds are positioned to screen the interior view, but not closed completely. You may want to move any computers and TVs away from prying eyes. Never leave an “emergency key” hidden outside your house.

• Always leave your home in a secure state, regardless of the amount of time you expect to be away. A burglar watching your house is capable of taking what he wants in a few carefully planned moments.

• When you are away from the house, particularly for an extended period, be sure to make it look lived-in. Put timers on a few lights at varied times; put a timer on a radio set to a talk-radio station; install a dusk/dawn outside light or motion detector; ask a neighbor to pick up your mail and any circulars that might pile up on your doorstep; and stop delivery of newspapers or other mail.

• In many instances installing a home alarm system will give you protection, a sense of calm and even a discount on your homeowner’s insurance

• Walk around the interior of your home and inventory your major possessions. An easy way is to place valuables out on tables and videotape your house, room-to-room of all furniture, paintings and other possessions. Place the list, any photos/video you took, and perhaps the valuables themselves, in a safe, separate location.

• Tell a trusted neighbor on your block that you will be away. Activity or noise that might otherwise seem normal to them would be alarming if they knew you are away from home

• Be sure your homeowner’s insurance coverage reflects any improvements or purchases that have increased the value of your home or its contents since you got your homeowner’s policy. The only thing worse than losing your possessions is not being sufficiently covered to recoup your losses.