By Rachel Dove
WILLIAMSON - A vacant house - or one that appears vacant - is an appealing target to a burglar. This is especially true while families are vacationing during the summer months, taking long weekends away from home or during a business trip.
In view of these concerns, Mingo County Sheriff James Smith has issued a list of do’s and don’ts to help deter theft and to aid in keeping your home a crime-free location. You can alleviate day-to-day worries and make your trip more carefree if you will take a few simple steps to reduce the possibility that your home will be burglarized while you are gone.
While completing your vacation plans, arrange with a neighbor to pick up and hold your mail and newspapers so they won’t accumulate. This is a definite sign that no one is home and is something potential thieves look for when choosing their next target, according to the sheriff. If this is not possible, notify your news carrier and the post office to discontinue these deliveries until you are home again.
Make arrangements to have your grass cut and flowers watered while you are gone, especially if you plan to be away for more than seven-10 days. Also have someone check daily to remove throwaway circulars from your doorway, porch and yard.
If you have valuables in the home that are easily transported, take them to your bank for storage in a safety deposit box or leave them with someone you trust. Deposit any extra cash that you have lying around the home in an account as well, including large amounts of change.
Notify the sheriff’s department or local police officers about your departure and return dates, and provide them with a name and number of a nearby relative or neighbor who can be reached in case of an emergency, along with your own contact information while away.
Make sure that any broken windows, door locks or window locks are repaired. If possible, have several lamps or lights set on timers that will allow the lights to be turned on and off at alternating times, creating the appearance that someone is inside. Motion detection lights on your porch or garage are always a plus when it comes to safety. Arrange with a relative or a neighbor to watch the house and supply them with a key.
Move all ladders, tools, lawn implements and lawn furniture inside a garage or under a carport, or on a porch if that option exists.
On the day you leave on vacation, Smith encourages you to unplug electrical appliances such as radios. televisions and large appliances that do not require constant electricity. This rule also applies to microwaves, coffee pots, etc., to prevent damage to them in case of a power surge. Set your thermostat so that your furnace/air conditioner will maintain a reasonable temperature. Close off your fireplace flue to prevent birds or animals from gaining entrance. Turn off water to washing machines, refrigerators, etc. to prevent problems from a broken hose or leaking pipes.
Also recommended is a tip that’s not a common one, and that is to turn down the ringer on your telephone and answering machine so that it cannot be heard ringing by someone on the outside without anyone answering. Close and lock all windows and sliding doors, making sure to also place wooden or metal bars as a secondary form of protection in window and door channels. Put window shades in normal daytime positions and make sure that all main floor drapes, shades and curtains are arranged so that neighbors and police can see into your house if the need would arise. If a vehicle is being left in an open location, make sure it is locked and that the security alarm is set.
If you take the time to go the extra step to properly secure your home and property, you will experience peace of mind knowing that you did everything possible to deter burglars. Returning to a home that has been broken into is an unpleasant finish to any trip. Never give a burglar an even break.