How to Avoid a “Home Alone” Scenario This Winter


You may be planning to visit your parents or take a relaxing vacation this holiday season. Before hopping in the car or heading to the airport, ensuring your house is safe and secure when you’re away is essential.

The top four things burglars look for in a house to break into are poor security, unoccupied space, the presence of expensive items, and unlocked doors and windows. Here’s how to stay one step ahead like Kevin and protect your home from break-ins this winter.

Make It Look Like Someone’s Home

An unoccupied home is an easy target. This is one of the first things burglars check when looking for opportunities. While you are away on holiday, no one except your neighbors and family must know. You can also make it look like people are moving around in your house.

Play Around With Automatic Lighting Systems

In the first scene of “Home Alone,” Harry Lyme asks Kevin’s dad if they have any security features to protect their home while the family is away. He says they have automatic timers for the lights and locks on the doors, which tips Harry off to the fact that a lit-up house can still be empty. Burglars are smart enough to know that automatic lights don’t necessarily mean someone is inside.

Change your routine a few weeks before leaving, and switch lights off at different times each day. You can also install outdoor lights with motion sensors. This helps you when moving around at night and deters suspicious activity.

Get a TV simulator. It fills a room with different colors of high-intensity light to simulate a television show. Most have an adjustable timer.

Say, “Alexa, switch on the light.” You don’t need a fully kitted-out smart home, but it helps to have one or two items connected to a smart assistant.

Call a Trusted Friend

Hire a house sitter to come in a few times while you’re away. Otherwise, ask a neighbor to clear snow or deice your driveway to make it look like someone’s taking care of the property.

Ask a friend to collect any letters or packages that arrive while you’re away. You can also make a note for delivery drivers to hide boxes on your porch or in your backyard.

Upgrade Your Security System

Most burglaries happen in homes without security systems. An unsecured house is 300% more likely to be broken into. The best way to protect your home is to install security features that scare away intruders, keep your property safe and alert you immediately when there’s a possible break-in.

Install Smart Security

You can rely on smart home security systems to protect you. Invest in peephole cameras or a smart doorbell with a 180-degree view so you always have an eye on your front door. If someone comes knocking to check if anyone’s home, you can answer remotely and scare them away.

Keep Your Alarm Pad Clean

A dusty surface and fingerprints can give an intruder clues to your password. Also, set a key that starts with numbers at the top of the keypad. Most people will likely begin with lower numbers with numerical patterns, which is the first thing burglars will try.

Use Security Tricks

While you may not be able to make booby traps like Kevin, you can still trick burglars into staying away. If you don’t have a dog or want to take your furry friend with you, display bowls or a “beware of dog” sign in your front yard to deter intruders.

Another great way is to display a security sign warning people that the property has cameras and alarms. It’s enough to make someone think twice before entering your home.

Lock All Windows and Doors

An open window or unsecured door reduces criminals’ time trying to get in. Even a tiny crack a pest squeezes through can be an opportunity to break in, so you must seal all entry points to prevent potential problems.

Lock all windows and doors before leaving. Check and double-check to see that everything is secured.

Seal Windows and Doors

You should caulk cracks around windows and doors to prevent burglars from using pry bars to force them open.

Install window stops if you have double-hung versions. You can also cover your windows with security film to prevent the glass from shattering if someone tries to smash them.

Keep It Low Profile

Burglars determining which house to break into will look for visible valuable items. Keep your valuables hidden and use these strategies to keep a low profile.

Dispose of Delivery Boxes Strategically

While you spread your holiday cheer with costly gifts, burglars may be watching to see what they can get. Fold or cut up boxes hide the brand names of expensive appliances or electronics.

Close All Curtains

The easiest way for burglars to see what’s inside is through partially closed blinds and curtains. It’s easier to see through curtains in the dark if bright lights are behind them.

Prevent accidental giveaways by switching on lights strategically in the kitchen or an upstairs bedroom.

Protect Your Home From Harry and Marv

Although you may not have a security-savvy Kevin to leave at home or booby traps to keep burglars away, you can still protect your house and deter break-ins with these tips. Give yourself peace of mind while you take a much-needed break celebrating the holidays with loved ones.

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