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How to protect your house when you’re not at home

By: Mike Koury | C&G Newspapers | Published July 24, 2019

METRO DETROIT — Outside of the tiny moments this year when the summer hasn’t been hit with heavy rainfall, residents might be finding some time to go on vacation.

But before packing up the luggage and maybe your children, people have one more thing to think about, and that’s home security. Leaving the household to go on vacation can be a bit stressful, as a vacant home can be ripe for the picking for burglars.

There are some things vacationers easily can do before heading out that can make their house less attractive for criminals. Berkley Public Safety Department Detective Lt. Andrew Hadfield said some obvious things are having someone pick up the mail or stop by the house, or having a neighbor keep an eye on the house and park their cars in the driveway.

“We also recommend that people contact their local police department and let them know that they’ll be away on vacation,” he said. “That way, we can keep an extra eye on the home.”

Other tips Hadfield suggested are making sure the lawn on the property is maintained and locking the doors, which, he said, people forget too often. Hadfield also suggested writing down serial numbers for personal items, making sure items of value are locked up and out of sight, and leaving the house lights on timers so it appears there’s some activity in the home.

Ken Paulson, owner of Paulson’s Audio & Video in Farmington Hills, works in installing home security systems. While alarm systems have been around for a long time, he said people’s interest in some security features, such as automated lights, has increased in recent years.

This, Paulson said, is because prices have come down to an affordable point and the technology has arrived to make things easier to use. He also noted that people’s ability to install security systems themselves has been a factor in their growing popularity.

“By having your lights go on and off at different times in your house, anybody who might be watching your house — thinking ‘maybe they’re gone’ — will see lights go on at different times, maybe in different rooms (and) will start second-guessing themselves,” he said.

Paulson also said electronic window shades have been a popular tool in home security systems.

“You can do things that make it look like you’re there,” he said.

The appearance of the house being occupied, Hadfield said, is very important, as he has heard from criminals themselves that this is what they look for when casing a potential home to rob.

“If they’re targeting a specific home, they’ll usually watch the home for a couple days before doing something,” he said. “When they believe someone’s home because of activity, then they’re less likely to target that home. When a house appears vacant for some time, they may believe that it’s empty and may attempt to commit a crime.”