Safeguarding Your Home for the Holidays

With the holidays fast approaching, you may be making plans to visit out-of-town family and friends, which means leaving your home vacant—and open to the possibility of getting robbed.

This—along with the still struggling economy—can make your home a target-rich environment for burglars.

According to the FBI, nearly 400,000 burglaries occur in the U.S. during November and December each year, and the reasons are obvious: Those are the months that many of us are away on vacation or out buying gifts.

“Burglars are opportunists looking for a score, and the holidays are a perfect time for it,” says Robert Siciliano, a security expert whose work with major businesses has earned him the title “the Lifesaver.”

So how do you prevent yourself from being one of the 400,000? Read on to find out.

•    Burglars Use Facebook, Too. We’ve all laughed at the stupidity of people posting their foibles on Facebook and Twitter, which raises the question: Why are you checking in on Foursquare or using social media at all?

•    Let the Lights Shine. Using high-wattage exterior lighting, set on timers along with indoor lamps, serves a twofold purpose: they help neighbors spot suspicious activity at night, while giving your home what Siciliano calls “that lived-in look.”

•    Not All Locks Are Created Equal. Burglars have been known to case homes during the day, dressed as contractors to fit in, and jiggle doorknobs in search of cheap locks. This is why it’s essential to protect your home’s main point of entry, advises Siciliano, with a strong one like the new Touchscreen Deadbolt from Schlage (, America’s most trusted brand for security that’s been creating technologically advanced security products for more than 90 years. “I like it because it offers the highest-grade residential security available, has a built-in alarm and an anti-pick shield, and is easy enough to install yourself.”

•    Disconnect the Garage Door Opener. Understand this: A powerless GDO can’t be hacked with a universal remote.

Finally, a word about presents. While you may be overjoyed to get that plasma TV you’ve been eyeing for months, immediately putting out the box it came in on the curb (along with all your other trash) does nothing more than shine a spotlight on what you got for Christmas for post-holiday burglars on the prowl.

“The best thing to do,” says Siciliano, “is cut the box up and put it in a big, black trash bag. That way, they don’t know you have a plasma TV.”

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