• Trim the trees. Finish all major yard work before you go, with special trimming attention given to trees and shrubs near windows and entries (a burglar doesn't need much to hide behind). Then put away all yard equipment and tools.
  • Plan maintenance. Line up help for outdoor chores such as mowing and manual watering so overgrowth and faded plantings don't give away your absence.
  • Improve lighting. Well-planned exterior lighting design can help keep your home safe while you are away. Put all outdoor lighting on timers and discourage intruders by adding motion-sensitive lamps in dark pockets, as well as in natural pathways.
  • Key tips. Remove all secret keys from their supposedly undisclosed outdoor locations, providing only one of your duplicates to the person who'll be in charge while you're out of town.
  • Collect mail. Have your house helper collect mail, parcels and newspapers daily. For added home security, invite a neighbor or family member to park a car in your driveway for the duration.
  • Notify police. Complete your home security plan by informing the local police department of your plans so they can add your home to their vacation watch list. Be sure to include contact information for both your interim caretaker and yourself while on the road.

Home locked  More home security tips

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