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How to keep your home safe while on vacation

Mt. Laurel man discusses home invasion
Wavebreakmedia Ltd, Thinkstock

While you’re busy getting ready to go on a fabulous vacation this summer, keep in mind that July and August can be peak season for home break-ins.

In 2016, there were 25,198 reported burglaries in New Jersey, according to the New Jersey State Police Uniform Crime Report. Burglary accounted for 16 percent of the total crime Index and 18 percent of all nonviolent crimes.

In New Jersey in 2016, homes were the targets 72 percent of the time. Stolen property, as a result of residential burglaries statewide, amounted to nearly $57.2 million for an average loss of $2,270.

To avoid becoming a statistic, AAA has some tips to keep your home safe and secure.

Most summer home burglaries take place in broad daylight, Tracy Noble of AAA Midatlantic said. Burglars see vacations as an opportunity to target empty homes, so it’s important to take necessary precautions to enjoy your time away.

First and foremost, Noble said, lock everything. That includes every single window and door in your home, and use deadbolts if you have them, she said. That will slow burglars down and maybe even deter them.

If you have security cameras or alarm systems, make sure they are activated. Noble said in this day and age, there are some very inexpensive security camera options that you can use that don’t even require a service. Noble said you can even use an old cell phone that has a camera, with motion-activated features.

She also said it’s a good idea to disconnect your electronic devices from the Internet to prevent hackers from getting access, and keep your valuables locked and well-hidden.

Taking a home inventory is also crucial.

“What you want to do is walk around throughout your home, take photos of large-ticket items — if you have large flat screen TVs, entertainment systems, gaming systems, computers,”  Noble said.

In the event of a break-in, she says you want to have the proper documentation to file a claim.

Trust a friend with your vacation plans and make sure you make your home looks inhabited, she said. Noble said you can use timers to turn lights on and off. Stop newspaper deliveries, so newspapers are not piling up on your front lawn. Stop mail delivery or have someone pick up your mail. Take care of your lawn. An unkempt lawn is a tell-tale sign that nobody is home.

Noble says whatever you do, avoid posting photos on social media of your fabulous vacation until after you’ve returned home.

“Don’t announce to the world that you’re out of town and that you’re going to be away for a week, a week and a half,” she said.

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