Summer travel season is in full-swing, and according to the Insurance Information Institute (III), so is the peak season for home burglaries. Therefore, AAA Arizona would like to remind travelers to make sure their homes are secure before they head out of town.
According to the III, more than 2 million burglaries occur annually in the U.S. Of these, 65 percent are residential break-ins. The majority of these crimes occur during the peak travel months of July and August, per the institute.
"A home that appears empty can be a target for thieves," said Brad Oltmans, vice president of insurance for AAA Arizona. "However, taking a few extra precautions before heading out of town can help safeguard your home against burglary while you enjoy your vacation."
To help catalogue to-dos before heading out of town, AAA Insurance recommends homeowners create a checklist that includes the following:
• Close and lock all house and garage windows and doors. If you have a sliding glass door, invest in a slide lock or consider inserting a stick into the track to prohibit opening. Be sure to lock exterior gates and doors as well.
• Leave blinds and curtains in their normal position. A closed up house can be a signal to thieves that homeowners are away, and will be for an extended period of time. For the same reason, set a few interior lights on a timer.
• Move valuable items out of view from the outside. Computers, electronics, art and other pricey items should be stowed out of plain sight.
• Suspend mail and newspaper subscriptions or ask a neighbor or friend to pick these items up each day. A pile of newspapers in the driveway is a key indicator that no is home.
• Ask a trusted friend or family member to inspect your house regularly. Be sure to provide them with emergency contact information while you're away. Some communities have neighborhood watch programs that can assist with this.
• Remove all spare keys that are hidden under doormats, in flowerpots, or anywhere outside the house.
• Ensure your homeowner policy is current and paid. A current policy will ensure that your home and possessions are covered in the event something happens while you're away.
• Refrain from updating your social media status with vacation details. Social networking sites have become a popular method for savvy thieves to identify targets that they know are away from home.
• Consider investing in a home alarm and exterior motion lights. Some security systems provide the benefit of automatically alerting police or fire personnel when triggered. Exterior lights with motion activation will help deter activity outside your home while you are away.
For more information, visit AAA.com/insurance.
• Linda Gorman is public affairs director for AAA Arizona. Reach her at (602) 650-2716.