Updated: Jul 26
Going for a trip? Run through this checklist of home security tips so you don’t come back to a burgled house.
Have you ever had that feeling where, as soon as leave the house for your holiday, you start to think, “Did I close the upstairs window?”
I know that feeling too. It’s hard to really relax if you start worrying about break-ins while you’re away.
In Malaysia, break-ins are getting too frequent. This is especially true during the festive season or school holidays, when the entire neighbourhood leaves town.
Thankfully, there are ways to ensure your home is properly locked down. Some are easy to do on your own, while others will need the help of a recommended professional. Check out our home security tips below:
1. Reinforce the locks on your doors and windows
Before you invest in a high-tech alarm system, take a look at the basic entry points to your home. Burglars will try to find the easiest way in, and that’s usually the ground floor doors and windows.
Upgrade your window latch to include a locking key, and add a deadbolt. The same thing can be done for your doors. The added security will make your home much less attractive to burglars, as it will slow down the process of break-ins.
2. Don’t expose your valuables
This tip is from an actual burglar. If your home has big windows and sliding doors, make sure to draw the curtains before you leave. During the day, a single day curtain, or sheer curtain is enough to keep out prying eyes.
However, if you are going to leave a night light switched on, that same sheer curtain will not be enough. Get a thicker fabric, or get two layers of curtains (black out and sheer) to keep your home private.
If possible, arrange your furniture so that if someone looks in, they will not be able to see your expensive big screen TV.
3. Maintain a well-groomed garden
If you have a landed property with a big front garden, it’s tempting to create a secluded garden with lots of trees and shrubs.
However, be reminded that these plants need regular maintenance, or it becomes overgrown, and a potential hiding place for burglars. Before you go on your vacation, make arrangements with a gardener to tidy up the garden.
4. Install a home alarm system
If you are away a lot, having an alarm system installed is a good investment. Modern alarm systems include motion sensors, fire, smoke and gas alarms, and emergency buttons in case of threats or medical incidents.
A comprehensive home security package will include 24-hour monitoring services from a nearby security centre. If a door is opened, or unusual activity is detected, the customer service centre will call you.
Or, if you’re on a tight budget? You can always get a fake decoy “Protected by XXX security services” box and display it at the front of your house.
5. Have a well-lit yard
A dark front yard provides a great place for burglars to hide while they slowly get past your defenses. Even if a car or a neighbour were to walk past your gate, they may not see a burglar in the shadows of your plants, or crouching by your car.
Ask an electrician to install motion-activated outdoor lights, and have it switch on after dark.
6. Pause newspaper delivery
If you have daily newspaper delivery, tell them to pause deliveries while you are away. Having a stack of untouched or wet newspapers on your driveway will give a hint to people that you are not at home.
If you prefer not to tell your deliveryman your holiday dates, ask a neighbour to collect the newspapers for you.
7. Install remote-activated lights, or set them on a timer
Along with motion-activated lights, you can also install lights that are set to switch on at certain times of the day. Your local hardware store should have such switches, or you can buy lights that come with its own timer.
Increasingly, there are also switches that connect to the Internet to switch the lights on and off on a schedule that you set on your mobile phone. These schedulers can even randomise the times your lights switch on, to keep burglars guessing whether you are home or not.
8. Tell your neighbours
If you are planning to go away for a couple of weeks, ask a favour from your neighbour to check on the house every few days. Give them the keys so they can collect the newspaper and mail and let them know how they can reach you.
9. Lock your doors and windows
Yup, we know this tip is obvious. But in your haste to get to the airport, you may forget this basic step. Make an extra effort to go around the house and every room before heading out for your long holiday.
10. Empty your mailbox
Always remember to clear out your mailbox before travelling. A full or overflowing mailbox is an obvious signal that there’s no one at home.
11. Install a CCTV system
Having a CCTV prominently mounted will make burglars think twice. And in the event of an actual break in, the camera footage may help identify the suspect.
Get help from a security professional to help you select the right mix of cameras. Factors include whether the cameras are for outdoor or indoor use, whether they should record continuously or only activate by movement, and whether they store the data on-board, or send it remotely to a central storage system. They will also provide you with a mobile app so you can monitor your home from anywhere.
12. Turn down the volume of your home phone
Most people don’t do this; If you still have a fixed line or house phone, turn down the volume or simply disconnect it before leaving the house. If a burglar is waiting outside, the endless ringing will tell him that no one is at home.
Alternatively, you can do some simple renovations to increase the sound-proofing of your home.