Protect Your Home When You're Away

Leaving town for a few days (or weeks)? Make sure your home is ready.

three packages stacked on mat at doorstep
Don't let packages pile up while you're away from home. 
Triggerphoto / iStock

Whether you're traveling for vacation or for work, it's hard to focus on where you are if you're worrying about what might be happening back home. But the fact is that more than 70 percent of burglaries happen when homeowners are away. That doesn’t mean you should cancel your plans. Just take a few extra precautions.

Use security hardware.

If you have a home alarm system, use it. If you don't, consider getting one: It'll scare off most intruders and may also get you a discount on your homeowners insurance.

Even if you do have an alarm, turning on a radio or TV (ideally set with a timer) is popular for a reason: It really does discourage thieves. And switching lights on and off with timers is still a good idea.

Smart home devices can help, too. Smart light bulbs create the most convincing illusion that your house is actively occupied. Cameras let you keep an eye on the house from anywhere through a phone app. And using smart locks with codes to give pet sitters and other service providers access to the house is safer than handing out spare keys.

hand reaches to press settings on security keypad

Touch security keypad.

Daniel Jedzura / Shutterstock

Don't advertise your absence.

A pile of newspapers on the stoop and a bulging mailbox are clear signals that nobody is home. If you get a daily paper, suspend its delivery while you're out of town. Then go to to do the same for your mail.

Another way you can inadvertently invite prowlers: posting pics on social media while you're still away. Don't share photos of your travels until you get home.

Intruders typically target quick-to-grab items such as electronics, jewelry, cash, and prescription drugs. If you have a safe, stash these items in it. If not, hide small valuables in non-obvious spots such as a cereal box or the cabinet under the kitchen sink. Don't leave them where they're visible from doors and windows.

Enlist help.

You probably already let trusted friends know when you'll be gone. You can also tell the police by filling out a "vacation house check" form at your local station. They'll keep an eye on your domicile during patrols.

If you'll be gone for more than a week, hire someone to mow the lawn while you're away. You should also cut back any plants that could give thieves cover.

This article was first published in September 2020 and was last updated in November 2022.