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Hide that Spare Key! Nextdoor’s Summer Travel Safety Checklist

For many people, the beginning of summer conjures images of warm weather, graduation ceremonies, and summer vacation plans. However, summer also represents something more sinister: peak burglary season. With that in mind, we wanted to share some simple tips to keep you, your family, home, and neighborhood safe during the vacation season. 

Full mailboxes or stacked newspapers outside your doorstep are clear visual giveaways for would-be thieves. In many cases, burglars can notice these cues from a distance, potentially avoiding the threat of detection from home surveillance. Withholding your mail delivery before leaving town decreases your chances of becoming a target home for burglars in the first place. USPS offers an easy-to-use online service for withholding mail. Trusted neighbors can also keep an eye on your home as an added layer of reassurance and security. If you are familiar with a neighbor through Nextdoor, perhaps ask if they could pick up your mail or deliveries for you while you are away from home.

Other visual cues can also work to keep intruders at a distance. If you have one, display a sign relating to a home security system in a conspicuous or prominent area of your home. Regardless of whether you are really protected by these systems, the sign actively works to deter burglars. 

Besides signage, human presence achieves a similar effect– if you regularly hire gardeners, handymen, or cleaning services, keep your routine appointments with them while you’re away. The majority of burglaries occur during the day, so having people visit your home reduces the window of time that a thief might conduct a break-in. Check out Nextdoor’s “recommendations” section to find local home service providers that your neighbors recommend. 

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While “hide-a-keys” offer convenient insurance against misplaced house keys, they also allow thieves convenient access to your home. It is better to leave your spare keys with a trusted friend, family member, or neighbor who can periodically check in for you to ensure that all is well.

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While social media can be a fun way to help you stay connected with friends and family, it can act as a signal for would-be thieves. Carefully consider what you choose to share on any social media platform while you travel. Announcing vacation plans, sharing updates or photos during your trip, or “checking in” to far away locations all advertise that you aren’t at home to burglars. Fight the temptation and wait to share until you return from your trip. 

Besides doing a final walkthrough to lock all windows, doors, and points of entry, you can also notify your local police that you’ll be out of town. Did you know most police departments offer home watch services at no cost? Law enforcement agencies will check on your home while you are away, so notify them! Thousands of police departments and other local public agencies already connect and serve their communities through Nextdoor. Check the “Public Agencies” section on your homepage, located near the bottom of the menu on the left hand side of the site. From there, you can often speak to a police officer directly through Nextdoor’s messaging portion of the site. 

Think through these tips as you plan your next getaway. Here’s to a summer of adventure and fun! 

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