Easy ways to prevent home break-ins this summer

Ah, summertime. Who doesn’t love the idea of spending the long, hot days lounging by the pool, sipping on homemade lemonade?

While adopting this lackadaisical approach to tackling long summer days may be tempting, there’s one area you shouldn’t neglect: home security.

Summer is prime time for home break-ins and burglaries. Reports show average crime rate in the U.S. increases by 10 percent during the summer. And according to the FBI, most residential burglaries occur between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. FBI crime statistics also show that residential burglaries cost the victim an average of more than $2,096.

Falling victim to theft can be both financially and emotionally damaging, but there are some easy, cost-effective ways to protect your home and avoid falling victim to theft this summer.

Lock your windows and doors – and don’t forget the garage. It’s important to make sure that you aren’t leaving doors and windows open or unlocked. This may sound like a given, but think about how easy it is to leave your garage door up when you’re attempting to make a mad dash for the house before the frozen food you just purchased at the grocery store melts into puddle on the driveway. Before you know it, you’re forced to shell out a few hundred dollars to replace that lawn mower that was snatched due to your carelessness.

Don’t let newspapers and mail pile up. If you’re going on vacation, make it a point to contact the post office to have them hold your mail. Do the same with your newspaper. Nothing screams “No one is home – come on in!” like a pile of newspapers sitting at the end of your driveway.

Keep a light on. If you’re going out for the evening or going out of town for the week, it’s a good idea to make sure there’s always a light on inside – and outside – your home. If you’re concerned about energy costs, there are timers you can purchase and place on your lights so they flick on at a specified time. You can also find motion-activated outdoor lights at your local hardware store for as little as $20. These can often act as effective deterrents for both criminals and rodents (bonus!).

Don’t advertise your plans. Sure, it may be tempting to hop online and broadcast your vacation plans via eight different social media websites, but that might not be the smartest move. Now I’m not implying that the former classmate – the one you shared a bond with during that lecture with the professor who you both agreed smelled a lot like creamed corn and spinach – will suddenly decide to raid your house because you’re out of town. But maybe her sketchy ex-boyfriend who has access to her account isn’t quite as trustworthy. Ok, it might sound like a stretch, but crazier things have happened. Just remember to think before you post.

Get to know your neighbors. Take advantage of your neighborhood watch program – if your community has one. Let your neighbors know when you’re going to be out of town and when you are going to return so they can keep an eye on your home. Make sure to give them your contact information in case of emergency. And remember to be a good neighbor and return the favor when they head out of town!

Jessica Horton is a former copywriter and community manager at MMI.