Every year, along with the snow and the Christmas lights, comes a flood of warnings to protect your home from burglars looking to take advantage of all the houses left empty during holiday vacations. Call it the “Home Alone’’ effect.
The holiday season is a time for fun and festivities. Unfortunately, it’s also a time when many homes are burglarized. Factors include Christmas presents, the high number of holiday travelers, and a high stress time of year. The FBI reports “nearly 400,000 burglaries occur during November and December alone.”
The criminals perpetrating these thefts aren’t typically professionals, but amateurs looking to quickly score items like electronics, jewelry and gadgets. Here are some ways to protect your home and keep it secure during the holidays.
1. Be discreet when disposing of packages.
One of the easiest ways for thieves to tell if there’s a wealth of valuables is from leftover packing in your trash or recycling sitting on the curb. A quick glance and they’ll know what they will find inside. If you’ve got a brand new TV or computer, be sure to break the packaging down and conceal it as much as possible. You may also want to wait to dispose of packing until the day trash/recycling is collected so it doesn’t linger around and give would-be burglars any incentive.
2. Minimize visibility from the street.
Another mistake homeowners make is leaving a mound of expensive gifts underneath the Christmas tree right in front of a window. If these items are visible from the street, potential burglars don’t have to make much effort to case your home. To prevent this problem, you should keep your curtains or blinds closed at night or position your Christmas tree so it’s not easily seen from the street.
3. Ensure you have adequate lighting.
The last thing a burglar wants is to be spotted when attempting to break and enter. That’s why it’s smart to install some outdoor motion detector lights that are triggered any time someone approaches your home at night. You should also set a timer for indoor lights if you will be away from home for an extended period of time.
4. Be careful with social media posting.
If you’re going to be out of town for the holidays, you should use caution with how much information you divulge on your social media accounts. For example, posting something like “greetings to everyone back home, we’ll be back next week” makes it all too easy for criminals to gain the edge. They’ll know for a fact you’re not home, which can make your home a prime target for a break-in.
5. Take pictures and record serial numbers.
For any high price gifts, it’s a good idea to take note of as much information as possible. This is relatively easy to do and starts with taking a picture and saving it on your mobile device, computer or on Cloud software. You should also write down all serial numbers if items need to be traced. In the worst-case scenario, this will make it easier for police to obtain a confession and recover stolen items.
Because of the good times and good cheer, some people fail to consider the spike in home burglaries around the holidays. Fortunately, taking the right precautions and preventative measures should keep your home safe from a Grinch.
If you are victim of a burglary, here are the steps to follow as soon as possible following the robbery.
Step 1: Contact law enforcement immediately.
As soon as you realize your home has been burglarized, call the police. Your home insurance company isn’t likely to take any steps forward with your claim until you report the incident and get a police report number.
While you’re waiting for an officer to arrive, resist touching doors, windows or any entry point that might be dusted for fingerprints. If you have a home security surveillance camera, check to see if it captured any suspicious activity.
Step 2: Call your home insurance company.
Once you have called the police, it’s time to notify your home insurance company. Even if you haven’t had the time to identify what, if any, property was stolen, you should make them aware that your home was broken into.
Step 3: Write a list of stolen items.
The next step is to start a list of items that were stolen. The more detailed your list, the greater the chance you’ll have of getting reimbursed fairly. List the item name, description, purchase date and value. If you have pictures or serial numbers, be sure to include them.
Most burglary victims find compiling a list of their stolen property to be the most tedious part of the claim process. Having an up-to-date home inventory of your valuables to refer to will speed up and simplify the task.
Step 4: Get reimbursed.
Once you’ve submitted your inventory of stolen items, you can expect to receive your check in one to two weeks. Remember that you have a deductible to meet, so you’re responsible for replacing items up to that figure.
If you have the financial resources to replace stolen items and repair break-in damage while you’re waiting for reimbursement, you should do so. This can help restore order and a sense of security to your home.
Step 5: Fortify your home against another attack.
The best way to evade a burglary insurance claim altogether is fortifying your home with a home security system. Not only will a monitored home security system make your home three times less likely to be burglarized, it may also save you up to 20 percent on your home insurance policy.
After a burglary, you’ll naturally want to focus on restoring your family’s sense of security as soon as possible, and your home insurance company should work with you hand in hand to do so. If you aren’t getting the service you deserve from your provider, give us a call, we may be able to get you back on the right track.
Happy and Safe Holiday Season!