Four to five minutes — that could be the difference between whether your return home from vacation is ruined by a burglar.
Experts say that’s the maximum time most thieves will spend trying to break into a house before giving up in search of easier prey. That holds true year-round, whether you’re blissfully off on a winter ski getaway or spending the summer on the beach.
How else can you avoid returning to a home that’s been ransacked? Consider these “Do’s” and “Don’ts” from experts:
Don’t advertise you’re away. Arrange to have the lawn mowed, put lights and electronics on variable timers and to really complete the illusion, ask a neighbor to park a car in your driveway.
Do make would-be thieves feel both exposed and contained. Choose picket or chain-link fencing instead of solid fencing to create a physical barrier that’s less easy to hide behind. Keep hedges clipped to around waist level.
Don’t hesitate to rearrange things. Those expensive belongings, including TVs and stereo systems, might as well have a sign on them saying “take me” if they’re left in plain view from windows and doors.
Do get an assist from technology. A solar-powered, motion-sensor light-which doesn’t require an electrician to install-illuminates your property so that lurking intruders are easier for neighbors and passing patrol cars to spot.
Don’t hide keys in “secret places” outside your home. Most burglars know where to look. Better to leave a duplicate with someone you trust.
Do invest in a burglar alarm. The most effective ones notify an outside service of trouble, but any kind is a good deterrent.
Just make sure there’s a friend or family member available to turn it off if it’s set off in your absence.