Don’t Let Time Away From Home Create Opportunities for Criminals

Pasco Sheriff’s Office is sharing an important reminder to safeguard your home and travel safely before the busy holiday travel season. Traveling for the holidays can be an exciting time, but don’t let time away from home create an opportunity for criminals. These tips from PSO can help keep you and your home safe while you’re away.

Make your home look “lived-in” while away. Use automatic timers or smart devices to control lights at different intervals to make it appear that someone is home. Never hide a spare key at an entry point, as criminals know where to look. Instead, ask a trusted friend or family member to hold a spare key for your home. Ask if a neighbor, friend or family member will visit and retrieve your mail, put trash cans out and conduct other routine activities. Their presence can help make your home appear occupied. Continue to have your lawn service visit your home as well. Well-kept landscaping can go a long way to deter criminals and remove any potential hiding spots.

Away from home safety

Fully secure your home before leaving. Lock all windows and doors, and ensure the locks work. If possible, lock the garage door, or unplug the opener to disable it. If your home has an alarm system, set it. List a trusted alternate contact that’s local with your home security system in case of an emergency, and especially if you’re not able to be reached immediately. Store belongings such as recreational items or tools in a shed or a garage. Check all fences are closed and gate latches are secured. Share your travel plans with someone close to home while away, so they can quickly report suspicious activity at your home.

Be mindful of your social media habits before and while you’re traveling. Adjust social media privacy settings not to share travel activities publicly, and don’t share travel plans on your social media platforms prior to travel. This lets criminals know that your home is unoccupied. Do not “check-in” virtually at places to keep your location private. While you may be tempted to share your trip with friends, wait to post travel photos to social media until after you have returned home. Criminals have ways of seeing these indicators of an unoccupied home and will take advantage of the opportunity. 

While traveling, be smart about scams and your personal safety. Practice safe storage of any identification you carry, credit cards and money. Tag luggage, including placing a card with your contact information inside your suitcase, and do not leave bags unattended to prevent theft. Know how to contact your destination’s local law enforcement and emergency services before you get there. If you are traveling internationally, know where the closest embassy is and how to contact them. Keep your important travel documents inside a hotel room’s safe too. 

Don’t let criminals take advantage of you while traveling this holiday season. Stay safe from theft and other safety concerns by taking a few smart steps before you head out.

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