There are over 2 million burglaries every year in the Unites States, making it a perennial worry for every homeowner and renter. In addition, a study by the UNC Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology found that burglars are more likely to target homes that appear uninhabited and unarmed due to a lower risk of being caught. Vacation rental properties make prime targets for intruders just for this reason – it’s likely that they are vacant for most of the year, or have frequent periods being unoccupied between guests, and an experienced thief will know how to monitor a home for activity and plan to make his or her move when you’re away. Here are a few ways to protect your vacation rental property from intruders:
Invest in an alarm system
The most obvious way to deter criminals is with an alarm system. If you’re away from a home for long periods of time, it’s best to install a wireless alarm system that can be monitored remotely from any location. Today, there are many wireless options available from a number of reputable companies that can provide a great system for vacation homes. Make sure to ask your provider about motion sensors, smartphone apps, and protection from other variables such as fire, smoke, carbon monoxide, flood and humidity. Strategic placement of motion sensors both indoors and outdoors can provide you with immediate knowledge of any strange activity around your home.
The way most wireless alarm systems work is to notify the monitoring service provider as well as the homeowner through text, phone call, push notification or all of the above in the event that your alarm system has been breached. Alarm systems for vacation homes should always be equipped with this mobile option so that you can be notified in a timely manner when there may be an issue at your vacation home. You may not always be available to answer a call from your alarm system provider, but it’s likely that you’ll have your smartphone on you at all times to receive an alert. Then, you can contact the authorities near your home to investigate, if your provider has not already made the call.
Install security cameras
A great addition to an alarm system for vacation homes is a security camera. A well-placed camera outside your home makes it easy for you to tune into your home from afar and actually see what’s going on. With some wireless security camera, you can integrate it with your current alarm system to send you alerts and notification, as well as stream live and recorded video right on your smartphone. That way, you can find out if a stranger is attempting to enter your vacation home with your own eyes, or whether a neighbor’s pet or pesky insects are triggering a false alarm. Security cameras also provide a great way to identify the intruder after a break-in occurs, giving the police some hard evidence with which to work.
Fake a full home
Since burglars target homes that appear empty, it makes sense to fake a full home when you’re away. Integrating an automated lighting system can create a sense of activity within your home and can be easily installed to work with your current wireless alarm system. Automated lights can be programmed to turn on at night, giving the appearance of an occupied home, and even television and other electronics can be integrated with a home automation system to give the impression that a family is inside watching a movie together at night. It’s a good idea to install both indoor and outdoor automated lighting; a well-lit outdoor area also deters burglars due to added visibility and an increased chance that they’ll be seen by a neighbor or passerby.
You can also implement tricks like having a neighbor park at your home, leaving shoes or other items on the front porch or toys in the front yard to give the impression that activity is happening around and within your vacation home.
Get to know your neighbors and/or property managers
While an alarm system will allow you to monitor your home from afar, it’s also a good idea to get to know the people who live around your vacation home full-time or who will be in town when you are not. A full mailbox is a giveaway that no one is home or has been home for a while, so, if you do not forward your mail to your main residence, ask your property manager or a neighbor to regularly check and store your mail for you while you’re away and to pick up any packages that may be left on the front porch. Share your schedule with your neighbors so that they’ll know when you’ll be in town or when you may have renters coming to the home so that they’ll know when someone should be there, or if the person entering your home is an intruder.
Install an electronic deadbolt
An electronic deadbolt is a smart addition to any alarm system for vacation homes, especially if you have renters who will be using the home while you are not. With an electronic deadbolt, you can monitor exactly who is entering and exiting your home and at what time. This is useful if you’ve asked your neighbors to periodically check on your things, when you have house cleaners or property managers who need access between guests, or you have short-term renters coming in and out at different times. Since electronic deadbolts can be enabled with individual codes for each user, you’ll always know who is entering the home and will easily be able to tell if a trespasser has accessed the system. If you give each renter their own code when they check in, you can see if someone is attempting to use an expired code when they shouldn’t be. You can also track all comings and goings from your smartphone or PC, making it a great way to keep tabs on your property while you’re away.
There are many things to worry about when you own a vacation rental property, but taking these precautions can significantly decrease the chances of a break-in occurring. Reduced risk of break-ins means less money, stress and time spent repairing and recovering your belonging, and more time enjoying your vacation home for what it was meant for.