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How to secure your home as travel out of town this Easter

The much-awaited Easter weekend represents all that the average working class citizen wishes for – a longer weekend.

However, while you make plans, book hotels, plan road-trips and make travel arrangements to visit relatives upcountry, unscrupulous individuals are eagerly waiting for you to close your businesses, pack your bags and leave your homes unattended for them to attack and steal property.

Security experts say while criminals should not dampen your mood to enjoy the Easter weekend, you could take steps in ensuring that your home is safe as you leave the city for upcountry.

According to Mr Brian Sagala, the Head of Marketing and Communication at Securex, when you pack up and travel upcountry for Easter, burglars come scouting for potential soft targets.

An unoccupied home presents a perfect opportunity for a thief to score and so Mr Sagala advices that the best practice is to get someone to occupy your house while you are away.

“If this will not be possible, get a trusted neighbour to make your house look “lived in.” Ask them to switch your lights on in the evening and switch them off in the morning”, the security expert advices.

“Ask them to move your car around a bit, or if you will be leaving with your car, to park theirs in your driveway for a couple of days. Leave them a spare key to the house, a contact they can reach you on and the PIN code to your alarm system,” he adds.

TRAVEL ITINERARY

The neighbors could even hang their washing on your clothes lines over the weekend just to complete the picture.

We live in an era where we ‘Instagram’ images of our food before digging in, so the temptation to talk about your vacation plans on social media is understandably high.

“You should however be wary, you never know who is watching. Posting your itinerary on Facebook just lets a potential burglar know when to come over to your place, and how long they have before you return,” warns Mr Sagala.

He also advices that one ensures that their perimeter fence is secure, or facilitate any repairs necessary.

Lock away any tools that could potentially be used to break into your house, or that could be used to access higher floors such as ladders or tables.

If you have an alarm system, schedule a service for your alarm with your security provider, and be sure to arm it before you leave.

Also check whether you have left any electric appliances plugged in. This is crucial so as to reduce the risk of a fire starting due to electric fault as well as reducing damage to appliances caused by power surges.

“Be sure to keep your valuables out of sight. That way, burglars “window-shopping” will probably skip your house and raid your neighbour’s instead,” he says.

Ensure there is proper lighting around your home so that your neighbours can be able to see what is happening around your compound and make it easier for them to report any suspicious activity.

SOFT TARGETS

“Burglars also prefer to operate in the dark because it reduces their chances of getting caught,” adds Mr Sagala.

He said that burglars target homes mostly to steal high-end technology gizmos which most urban youth aged between 20-35 years possess.

“A typical household belonging to a youth would have an expensive television, home theatre sound system, a computer, a decoder, amongst other valuable items,” he adds.

He however laments that despite possessing such valuables, the youth are perceived to be the least likely to invest in securing their homes with only a singular padlock on the door.

Residents who have recently moved into a new neighborhood are also easy targets as burglars know they will take time before they “bed in” their new environment and develop a strict security regime.

Other houses likely to be soft targets include those that are easily accessible and those next to a road or shopping centre that is buzzing with activity where it will be easier to escape after a raid.

“A gated community is likely to have an organized and focused approach geared towards protecting the estate, not just one home. Furthermore, the escape routes for a burglar within a gated community are limited, increasing perceived risk of getting caught,” he said.

If one of your neighbours has been robbed recently, Mr Sagala advices that one should invest in securing their home.