Farmers Offers Tips on Keeping Homes Safe During the Holidays

December 21, 2005

While the holidays are a time for rejoicing, they also present an opportunity for thieves, as homes are filled with new, often expensive gifts. A recent survey shows that homeowners often neglect to take preventive action against such criminals.

According to a Farmers Insurance Group survey, more than half (52.5 percent) of those polled said they never use their home alarm system. Another 27.6 percent said they rarely or never keep the outside of their house well lit at night.

“With people away from their homes — at parties, shopping or just at work — the holidays can be an open invitation for burglars,” said Jeff Beyer, senior vice-president & chief communications officer for Farmers Insurance Group. “Homeowners can help stop these crimes by installing and using a home security system or by attaching motion sensors to their outdoor lighting.”

An empty, unoccupied home is a prime target for burglars. Yet only 39 percent of the survey respondents said they make an effort to give the appearance that someone is at home. Forty percent said they fail to stop newspaper or mail deliveries or use automatic timers when they are gone for a few days.

“If you plan on being out of town during the holidays, don’t advertise it,” Beyer advised. “Stop newspaper and mail delivery. Ask a neighbor you trust to pick up circulars and flyers, shovel snow from your sidewalk and to keep an eye on your home while you’re away. Also, leave blinds and curtains in their usual positions to make it appear you are home. Finally, don’t leave descriptive messages on your answering machine announcing that you’ll be gone for some time.”

The following are tips Farmers recommends to help prevent home burglaries during the holidays:
*Do not place gifts or valuables where they can be seen from a window.
*Burglars sometimes pose as deliverymen in order to gain access to your home. Always ask for identification.
*Be wary of strangers who ring your doorbell and tell you they’ve lost their pet and think it might be in your backyard. While you go with them to look, someone else may be burglarizing your house.
*Do not provide a burglary-friendly environment. Keep your home well lit with exterior lights and your shrubbery trimmed below window level.
*Turn off your computer and disconnect it from the Internet. Computer-savvy burglars can access your personal information in a matter of minutes.
*Keep garages and tool sheds locked. Burglars are not shy about using your tools to break into your home.
*After the holidays, avoid leaving boxes from big-ticket items, such as plasma TVs on the curb. Break boxes down and fold them to where the picture of the item given to you on the box is not visible.

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