Prepare your home for vacation

St. Louis Post-DispatchJuly 25, 2009 

When you're scurrying around, getting ready to go on vacation, the last thing on your mind may be your house. But preparing your home for vacation is just as important as packing your suitcase, experts say. Burglary is often the first thing we think about, but you should also take steps to avoid unnecessary use of electricity.

The best tactic to prevent burglary is to give the illusion that someone is at home.

Officer Jonathan McIntosh works in crime prevention at the Creve Coeur (Mo.) Police Department. With his help, we put together some tips to prevent burglary.

Get to know your neighbors well. Tell them that you're leaving and ask them to grab the mail and newspapers. Or put a hold on your papers and mail.

Leave a car parked in the driveway.

Lock all windows and doors, including the shed and garage.

Complete all yard work. Have someone mow the lawn while you're away if you'll be gone longer than a week. The American Crime Institute suggests that bushes should not be taller than 4 feet. Eliminate places that a burglar could hide.

Put timers on the lights and electronics. Arrange for the indoor and outdoor lighting to power on simultaneously. McIntosh says, "If you watch TV from 7 to 10 at night then set the timer for the TV to power on at that time while you are gone."

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