Scam Watch

Vacation season is busy time for home burglars

July 13, 2008|By Dan Thanh Dang

Before you pack up the bags and family to scoot off on vacation, remember that burglars are hard at work planning to pay your home a visit while you're gone.

The Insurance Information Institute warns that there are 2.15 million burglaries every year. More than 65 percent of those are residential break-ins, and most occur in July and August. Standard homeowner's insurance policies cover theft of personal possessions and damage to the home caused by a break-in. If you own valuable jewelry, or other luxury goods, ask your insurance agent or company representative whether you should consider purchasing a floater to ensure adequate coverage for these items. Installing devices to protect your home could save on your insurance.

The institute says to keep your home safe:

*Make it time-consuming to break into your home. Dead-bolt window and door locks can slow a burglar down.

*Make it noisy to break into your home. Invest in a burglar alarm. The most effective systems ring at an outside service, which alerts the police, fire and other emergency services.

*Make sure you have strong doors. Outside doors and frames should be made of metal or solid hardwood and be at least 1 3/4 inches thick. Each door must fit its frame securely in order for locks to work.

*Turn off your computer and disconnect it from the Internet. If you save personal information in your computer, make sure it is difficult to access. You don't want a hacker at work while you are on vacation.

*Keep valuables under lock and key and well-hidden. Do not leave personal documents in your home office or desk. Put critical documents in a lockbox or safe somewhere else in the house, keep copies of important documents at another location and hide expensive jewelry or leave it in a safe-deposit box at the bank.

Other tips that could help keep burglars out include keeping your home well lit, put indoor lights on a timer, ask neighbors to check on your house and only tell people you know that you're going away.

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