Kelly Leighton

Last Updated: June 12, 2018 | View all posts by Kelly Leighton

With summer unofficially underway, more and more homeowners will be taking vacations, and thus, leaving their homes vacant.

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman offered advice to traveling homeowners to keep their homes safe from burglars while they are away. First, Altman suggested adding deadbolt locks to both doors and windows, and additionally adding a security system, all of which could possibly lead to a reduction in homeowners’ insurance.

It’s also important to make sure the home doesn’t look deserted. Mail, package and newspaper delivery should be stopped, or a trusted friend or neighbor should be in charge of picking it up. Leave a few lights on indoors, as well as outdoors, and leaving on a radio inside may lead thieves to think someone is indeed home. Altman also recommended putting important paperwork and jewelry into a locked safe, and leaving laptops out of sight.

With the ever-growing popularity of social media, Altman said be careful with what you are sharing. “We are all learning about the impact social media has on our lives that we don’t think of. We often share photos when we’re on vacation on our network, which can be wide-reaching,” she said. “It’s an advertisement that you’re out of town,” she added.

While it’s fine to share with trusted friends and family you will be away, be careful about disclosing your vacation plans in public.

“Be aware of things that can make it readily apparent that you are not home, and haven’t been for a significant amount of time. Having an awareness helps make a difference,” Altman said.

Realtors® can use these tips for their own homes, as well as to pass along to their clients and for homes that are vacant and on the market. “I’d offer many of the same suggestions,” said Altman. “Whether someone is living there or not, there will usually still be mail. They often have lights out. Maintain curtains and the property, and make sure someone is collecting any junk mail.”

The Insurance Department produced a short video outlining tips for homeowners to safeguard their properties while on vacation, along with a home security checklist.