We have never really been worried about safety when travelling and leaving behind our condo. Simply because security is so ridiculously tight, that the chances of being robbed are pretty much next to none. As our condo compound is surrounded by very tall walls with only one entrance, that is closely monitored by a rotating schedule of security guards, and throughout the compound and communal areas, there are continuous 24/7 security CCTV cameras monitoring all comings-and-goings. And even if someone manages to reach the foyer, they will not be able to access the lifts to get any further, as well as internal doors and secure areas being set with security alarms in case of any attempt of break-ins. But even residents of the condominium have security key cards that can only access their given floors, as well three floors of the communal compound. Not to mention the somewhat unnecessary CCTV throughout the building itself. So, in short, unless you’re Spiderman, it is extremely difficult to break in to rob our condominium while we’re not there. So security issues have never been a problem for us when travelling.
The Family Home
On the other hand, when it comes to individual homes and houses, security will always be a lot more important. And given my own independence in location, and being able to leave my condominium secure at any time, I have always been the to-go-to person in the family when they travel abroad. And in the past couples of years I have taken care of the parent’s house for 4 months in the U.K, while they travelled on a round-the-world cruise, as well as having to take care of my sister’s, and brother’s homes, on two different occasions. And while the primary purpose is to take care of the cats, the security and safety of the house is kind of a given in these situations. However, by far the most vulnerable time for any house being robbed is when the occupants are abroad. And every time I am left with that ‘Home Alone’ scenario, expecting the local robbers to make a visit while the family are away. Anyway, I have gone through these situations so many times now, that I thought I would make them somewhat worthwhile, by sharing them here.
The obvious preventative for any home is the installation of a security alarm, which kind of minimizes any risk by a significant amount, considering the number of neighbouring houses that fail to actually install them. At the same time, security lights are fairly standard these days. Or there’s always a less effective alternative in a yappy dog, although dogs tend to go off from the slightest of reason, and are really unreliable. So people generally ignore them. Plus we’re cat people. Otherwise there are some simple things to do to deter burglars from the outset. For example, having tall enclosed hedges and fences might appear to be a good way to keep burglars out. But really it gives them better cover to hide behind once on the inside. Also reinforced windows and window locks will hinder any break-ins, and are just a sign of safety conscious household, which deters any robber from the get-go. So these are just obvious things that will deter robbers from the start.
The Local Community
I think one of the most important preventatives, which for many it is the hardest, is to tell as few people as possible about your travels ahead. Simply because people want to show off, and rub it in, and inevitably share it all with nice photographs through Facebook and social media. And this is like a big announcement, saying that “we’re away on our holidays, and our house is ripe for robbing”. And while you may trust that sweet ol’ granny down the road, she’s also likely to enjoy a good natter at the local shops, so the entire neighbourhood will soon know about your planned trip abroad. However, it is important to tell people in case of emergencies, and there should be a handful of reliable folk nearby. Like a next door neighbour, or, if possible, the local Neighbourhood Watch (check your postcode here) and they will keep an eye on your home while away.
Before You Leave
Not everyone will have some sucker like me to care for a house for 4-months straight, meaning some last minute preventatives are necessary before leaving the home behind. For example, it would be best to cancel things like milk deliveries (if they still exist), as well as newspapers, or just any home deliveries. As a build-up of junk on your porch will be a tell-tale sign that the house isn’t being maintained, and there’s likely nobody at home (just hope that your milkmen or paperboys aren’t crooks as well). And maybe cut your grass. Otherwise, before leaving, take a good look over your home and garden, and make sure there’s nothing lying around to be used to help a break in. Like a big set of ladders to access the upper windows.