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Protect Your Home While You're Away

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Holidays are a special time to visit family and friends.  Quite often, that means traveling to other cities to see your loved ones.  While you are away, here are some helpful tips on making sure your house and property are protected from unwanted guests.

1. Sign up for a House/Business Check with Northwood Police
The Northwood Police Department offers FREE House and Business Checks for its residence and business owners.  When you are leaving town for a couple days, or a few weeks, officers will watch your property and do checks to make sure the property is secured.  Sign up for FREE by clicking here.  If an issue arises at your property, Northwood Police officers will be in touch with you.  If we are unable to get in touch with you, we will contact the emergency keyholder contacts you specify.  Note: if you have someone watching your house while you are away, please make sure to specify not only their contact information on the form, but also what kind of vehicle they will be driving.  This helps officers in the event they are called for a suspicious vehicle in your driveway, or they observe a vehicle that isn’t your own.


2. Ask a friend to help
Find a friend or neighbor that will be staying close to your residence to watch your home.  Give this person a key and if you have an alarm system, the alarm code.  Ask the person to drive by every day or so to make sure the property is okay.  If you are leaving pets at your residence, type up a pet care guide, so that your caretaker will know exactly what they need to do.  Also, leave an emergency contact list with phone numbers of people they can call in the event of an emergency, and they are unable to reach you.


3. Don’t tip off criminals on the web
If your social media account settings are set to “public,” it may not be a good idea to post that you are leaving town for a few days.  Criminals use social media to identify residences that will be unoccupied for a specific period of time.


4. Should I open or close my curtains?
One of the biggest questions we are asked is, “Should I close my curtains or leave them open?”   You may decide to close your curtains to prevent people from looking inside your home to see whether you’re there.  However, closed curtains also prevents police, your neighbors or friends from seeing inside your house, to see if there may possibly be an issue or an intruder.  So, should you leave your curtains opened or close?  The best tip is to leave your curtains exactly as you usually keep them when you’re home, since noticeable changes could hint that you’re not around.  Also move expensive items, like jewelry or computers, out of plain sight if they’re visible from the window.


5. Don’t leave all your lights on in the house, use a timer system
Don’t leave your lights on throughout your entire vacation in an effort to make it look like someone is in the house.  Your electric bill will end up more costly than your mortgage, and house lights on throughout the night might look a bit suspicious.  Instead, purchase a light switch timer that can turn your lights on and off automatically according to a programmed schedule.  Criminals keeping an eye on your house will notice lights flipping on and off, and will assume someone is doing the flipping.


6. Stop your mail
It’s easy to stop your mail and/or newspaper service while you are away.  You can also have a friend or neighbor get your mail and newspapers as well.  Mail and newspapers piling up on your front porch will automatically tip a criminal that you haven’t been home in a while, and are more likely to try to break in.


7. Check those pipes
Especially in the winter months, have a friend come by and check the pipes.  A simple action of turning on the water in the kitchen, bathroom, etc. will indicate whether or not your pipes are frozen.  By being proactive about checking this, you can save thousands of dollars in costly repairs to frozen or ruptured pipes.


8. Pull the plug
You may not know this, but even if you have an electrical device plugged in, it’s still pulling power.  Unplug your television, computer, toaster oven and other appliances to protect them from power surges and keep your electric bill down when you are away.


9. Remove that spare key
If criminals determine that you are away on vacation, they are more willing to search for that “fake rock lock box” or black box magnetically attached to a pipe.  If you have someone watching your residence, give them the spare key so that they can enter your residence.


By following these simple tips, you can help assure that your residence will be safe and protected while you are away.


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