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Checklist : Keep your home safe while you're away

In the pre-holiday rush to pack suitcases, we’re more likely to forget the simple things. But when it comes to protecting your home, these details may be important. Save this checklist, or print it out and keep it handy, to make sure you’re leaving with peace of mind.

1. Stop the mail

Place a hold on your postal delivery, or ask a friend or relative to collect the pile of mail-order catalogues that can build up on the doorstep and are a big sign that no one’s home.

2. Check your online profiles

Make sure you don’t post information on social networks that could alert potential thieves that your home is empty. Check your privacy settings… or leave uploading the photos until you get back!

3. Prepare to make the house look occupied

Leave curtains or shutters in the normal positions rather than “battening down the hatches”. Use automatic light timers to make it look like someone’s home. If you’re going away for a long period in summer, get someone to mow the lawn. In winter, get someone to shovel snow from the driveway. If your car is at home, leave it in the garage so that the lack of movement doesn’t attract suspicion.

4. Take pictures of your possessions

Keep a digital home inventory with photos and scans of receipts, so that you can prove purchase of the goods you own if something is to happen to them. Make sure you store this inventory securely, whether it’s in the cloud or on a hard disk outside your home.

5. Update your alarm procedures

If you have a home alarm system, contact the security provider to make sure they know you’re away, and update the contact details they should use if the alarm goes off.

6. Be careful with your car

If your car will be parked in “long-term” parking at the airport, make sure that there’s nothing inside that could direct thieves to your home (e.g. letters with your address on them)

7. Remove the spare keys

Basic but important: remove away any spare keys you might have hidden around your property. Think they’ll never find it? If it’s under a doormat or inside a fake rock, you’re not the first person to have thought of this, and professional thieves will know where to look.

8. Last but not least: secure all points of entry

Before leaving, take a walk around your home and test every door and window. If necessary, replace your door locks before you go, and use wooden dowels in window tracks to secure them.