According to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2012 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey, vacation home sales rose 7.0 percent to 502,000 in 2011 from 469,000 in 2010. With summer homes on the rise in a down economy, it is vital for homeowners to protect their investments from the threat of crime in the off-season.
“Empty summer homes are easy targets for potential intruders, and according to the FBI, the most recent burglary statistics indicate a 3.5 percent increase in the Northeast region,” says former Boston Police Commissioner and Netwatch board member Kathleen O’Toole. “In today’s world, high net-worth individuals require more sophisticated security solutions to protect themselves, their families, their data and their property.”
As homeowners begin to close up their second homes for the off season, Netwatch CEO David Walsh provides the following safety tips to keep in mind:
Ask a neighbor or professional property manager to help. Enlist people to mow lawns and even park in your driveway while you’re gone if possible.
Give local police the heads up. Your town may have a community safety program that allows a police officer to come to the house and do a safety check before you leave to alert you to any potential security issues.
Think defensively. Make sure you stop all mail, lock all windows and doors, pull your blinds so thieves can’t see your valuables inside, and even put dowels in sliders so they can’t pull them open.
Lighting is key, even when you aren’t there. Take advantage of outdoor lights with motion sensors, solar lights on walkways, or even using lights and radios on timers inside.
Don’t forget about your pipes. Make sure to seal up your basement and pull in any air conditioners that may contain copper piping.
Keep your driveway plowed, even if you aren’t there. In case something does go wrong, you want to be sure that police and firefighters can easily access your home.
Monitor your house remotely. Set up your smartphone to monitor cameras inside and outside of your home. This allows homeowners to rest easier knowing they can see what’s happening at all times.
“We’ve seen increases of up to 62 percent in unoccupied housing being targeted in the off season,” says Walsh. “As the advances in technologies and the introduction of more stringent security measures mean commercial properties pose a higher risk of apprehension, criminals are turning their attention to more vulnerable but similarly lucrative targets such as the summer homes of high net-worth individuals.”