Securing your home before you go on holiday

Tips & guides

20 March 2018

With a few simple steps and some advance planning, it’s possible to ensure your home is protected and fully secure while you’re away on holiday.

Amid the excitement of planning a holiday, it can be easy to overlook the issue of home security. However, nothing ruins the memories of a good holiday quite like returning home to discover you’ve been burgled. It’s worth taking the time to ensure your property will be protected in your absence, both by using home security systems and with a little help from friends, relatives and neighbours.


Plan Ahead

Once your holiday has been booked, start thinking about ways to keep your home safe while you're away. If you’re flying from a local airport, get a taxi and leave the family car on the driveway. For longer trips, ask a friend or relative to move the car occasionally and re-park it facing the other way.

A growing collection of unopened milk bottles or unread newspapers will give away your absence, so put any standing orders on hold. Similarly, don’t order parcels that might be delivered while you’re away, in case they end up on the doorstep for a week. Avoid posting comments about upcoming holidays on social media, or loudly discussing it in the pub, hairdressers or corner shop.


Secure The Exterior

Survey the outside of your home and think about possible points of entry. Is there a sash and case window beside a flat-roofed extension, or an ill-fitting side door into an integral garage? Identifying weaknesses can help to inspire solutions, such as putting a chain around the handles of French windows or wedging patio doors shut with a plank of wood. A well-positioned plank can also prevent pull-down handles from being opened.

In terms of motion-based technology, burglar alarms and other alarm systems offer peace of mind. Dummy boxes are available too, but they're unlikely to fool anyone. Garden alarms are frequently triggered by passing foxes or neighbouring children retrieving stray footballs, but motion-sensor lighting in the back garden is highly recommended. Home security cameras are a deterrent to thieves, and they can offer valuable clues to police should someone break in. Before you leave, make sure they're positioned correctly and are in full working order.


Make The House Look Occupied

There are various ways to make your home look lived-in, even while it’s empty.

These include:

  • Timers: For a few pounds, lamps and other electrical devices can be turned on and off throughout the day, ideally at random times. An illuminated house is far less likely to be burgled than an unlit one, and the voices broadcast by talk radio stations will give the impression that people are at home. However, don’t leave lights or a TV on all the time, because no occupied house would have ceiling lights on during a sunny afternoon or a TV blaring away at 5am.
  • Remote-controlled appliances: App-controlled home devices provide a great alternative to timers. From electric blinds to adjustable lighting, there are plenty of ways to maintain the illusion of occupancy from anywhere in the world.
  • Angled blinds: Closed curtains in the daytime are a giveaway, so angle blinds strategically – this makes it difficult for people to see in.
  • Sporadic visits: Ask friends or relatives to call in once a week, placing fresh flowers on the windowsill and moving any post that might be collecting. This will all suggest that somebody's home, as will asking someone to put the bin out on collection day.
  • Clutter: Although you don’t want to come home to a messy house, emptied worktops and bare tables will suggest absence more than remote controls on the arm of a sofa and strategically-placed paperbacks.

Hide Temptation

It might sound obvious, but avoid leaving valuable items lying around in plain sight when you’re not at home. Leaving sets of car keys on a table beside the front door makes it easy for a thief to scoop them up using a large magnet or a fishing line, and jewellery displayed on a dressing table will make smashing the bedroom window seem all the more appealing to a potential burglar.

Store anything valuable and portable out of sight, such as tablet devices and laptops. Look through the windows to see what’s visible from outside, and move anything that might be tempting to someone peering in.

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