7 Tips for Vacation Home Security

A turquoise cottage.

Having a vacation home is something many families dream about; it's a home away from home, a place to make lifelong memories, and a space to escape reality or even unwind from time to time. However, the last thing any vacation homeowner wants is to have something bad happen while they're back at their year-round home. To help secure your vacation home from vandalism, trespassing, or even robbery, consider these preventative measures.

1. Security Cameras

A security camera against a background of trees.

The absolute best way to protect your home is to install a monitored security system. And thanks to today's technology, keeping your vacation home secure is even more accessible and affordable than ever before. There are a variety of security camera systems available. There are even cameras that allow you to check in on your vacation home with your smart phone; it sends real-time video to your phone, home or work computer, tablet or laptop, any time and anywhere. A lot of these security cameras can even send you notifications if something is up. That way, you can alert the authorities in the area your vacation home is located.

2. Keep up Maintenance

Most trespassers, burglars, and vandalizers won't bother with vacation homes that look occupied. They would much prefer to take advantage of a vacation home that is empty with less threat or chance of getting caught. Therefore, you should keep your vacation home well-kept with a lived-in appearance to discourage any intruders. Some things to consider are keeping your trees, shrubs, and hedges trimmed, and the yard maintained and clean. Don't let mail and newspapers pile up, and keep your tools and ladders locked away.

3. Hire Someone

If you don't stop by your vacation home very often (maybe it's your summer house), you might want to consider hiring someone who can stop by from time to time to maintain your outdoor property. Perhaps have someone who is local to the area swing by and rake up leaves, shovel the driveway, cut the grass, etc. That way, you can keep up with the appearance of a lived-in home, even when you are miles away.

4. Lighting

A lighted brick walkway.

As mentioned before, most intruders will not bother with a vacation home if it looks like someone is there, which is why you should consider installing light fixtures on the outside of your home to light up any dark areas, doors, or windows. You might want to consider using timers and/or motion detector lights. It might also be helpful to install timers on lights and even radios on the inside of your house to make it appear as if someone is home.

5. Secure Doors and Windows

I think it's safe to say that most people know to lock the entrances to their vacation home when they leave, but you should also lock all other entries to your vacation home and all other buildings on your property including the garage, tool shed, boathouse, and storage lockers. You will also want to make sure all of the windows are tightly locked, too.

However, not all locks are very effective. Ineffective locks include common doorknob locks, and bolt locks that can be opened with a plastic card. Instead, you can use a variety of different locks that are very effective such as a deadbolt that is at least 1 1/2” thick, a double cylinder deadbolt, a case hardened padlock with 3/8” shackle or even a pin tumbler lock.

Make sure that your windows are secure, too, especially those on the ground level. If your window lock doesn't work very well you might want to consider putting a pin or a nail into the frame, or using a bar to wedge it into place.

6. No Spare Keys

Do not leave any spare keys for your vacation home anywhere on the property. Don't hide it under a flower pot or a rock on the porch, don't leave it up on the door frame or a window ledge, or in the mailbox. Take all the keys with you, and keep a spare somewhere at your year-round home, in your car, or with a trusted friend or neighbor in the area.

7. Know Your Neighbors

Neighbors enjoying a morning on a balcony.

If your vacation home is in a populated area, it's a good idea to get to know your neighbors. A close community is more likely to experience fewer break-ins because strangers stand out. Let your neighbors know when you arrive and leave, and don't be afraid to ask the people you trust to keep an eye out for any strange activity while you're away. That way if something is suspicious happens, they can alert the local authorities.