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How To Protect Your Home While You Travel

Let’s face it – being broken into SUCKS.

While we were in Florida this year, our house was broken into. Luckily we aren’t so fancy that there was tons to steal, but things like watches, family jewelry, cash, small electronics (cameras, iPod, laptops) were easy for a grab-and-go. 

The truth is, we feel safe in our little neighborhood & never thought it could happen to us. We even had a house sitter at that time, but those jerks had been watching our home and waiting for him to leave for church on Sunday morning. Rude (and creepy).

Unfortunately, since this “big” break in, we’ve had 2 other incidents – a broken car window (with some stolen tools) & an attempt to break into our home again. SO. ANNOYING. 

We’re so thankful nobody was hurt, because “things” can be replaced – it’s just such a pain to go through the whole process. This could have been a WHOLE lot worse for us, and we’re thankful it wasn’t too bad – but we’ve learned a ton through our experience & I thought I’d share so hopefully you can avoid this! Just incase you aren’t as resourceful as Kevin McCallister.

This might sound stupid or paranoid, but it’s completely worth your time. The thieves TRIED To drag our safe out, but it was 3oolbs & upstairs – just too heavy for them. We had cash from a recent car sale, ALL of our important docs (marriage license, SS card, birth certificate, etc), and a few other valuables. What I wish was in there was my few pieces of special jewelry. A safe can really be a game changer if you’re broken into, have a fire, or natural disaster strikes! You’ll want one that is heavy, as well as fire/water proof. If they can carry it out of your house, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Now, before we go on a trip I put any extra cash, expensive jewelry, or small valuables in there.

This might sound like a no-brainer…. but how many of you are renters without renters insurance? Renters insurance is extremely cheap – mine was $120 for the YEAR (aka $10 a month) for $25k in goods. You might not think you have $25k in belongings, but add up every electronic, piece of clothing, furniture, jewelry… even if they were gifts! It adds up quickly. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE get renter’s insurance. Skip eating out once or 2 lattes a month to prioritize the protection of the assets that you have! If you’re robbed without renters insurance, you will get nothing. 

If you own a home, you already have insurance – but take a few minutes to meet or chat with your agent to see what is covered. For us, knowing that watches count as jewelry, and we only had a $1,000 jewelry limit, would have been helpful. Matt had about 10 watches he’s collected over the last 15 years, and they blew our jewelry budget quickly. The 2 pieces I had stolen were valuable, but unfortunately were not covered because of this budget. KNOW YOUR LIMITS and have special jewelry (i.e., engagement rings, family heirlooms) insured separately, as they’re likely not to be covered. Also, know what your deductibles are & how you’ll be compensated. Our insurance covered the broken window, cleaning of our rug that was covered with dirt & gave us cash to replace our items. We are lucky we have a good insurance plan, but I’m glad to know now what we’re covered for. Your agent will gladly take a half hour meeting to explain it all to you & make sure you have what you need. 

Your car itself is covered by your car insurance – but your belongings in your car are not covered by car insurance. If your purse, stereo, or anything else is stolen out of your car, it will only be covered by your home owners/renters insurance. Keep anything valuable OUT of your car, especially while you’re away. It’s so easy to break a window & take what you want. Likewise, keep cars visible by neighbors or in a garage if possible. 

We signed up for Nextdoor.com & didn’t really think twice about it. Once we were broken into, we were able to post to our neighbors that it had happened, and learned that we weren’t the only ones! It’s basically a Facebook group for your neighborhood only. Check it out in your area. You could potentially help catch criminals or just protect yourself from being the next victim! 

Note: earlier I mistakenly called this service “neighborhood.com”. I consistently call it that by accident – so sorry for the confusion! Also please note they have a really handy free app for Androis & iOS.

Once again, something I never thought we would need. However, when someone got our back door open this week, the alarm scared them off & nothing was taken! Hopefully the word gets out to the rest of the crime crew that we’re “armed” & the police aren’t far away. We ordered SimplySafe alarm after our “big” break in, and it’s been great. You customize what you need (we have door sensors, glass break, & motion sensors) and it also has battery back up so you’re protected even if the power goes out! I would highly recommend an alarm for anyone who travels often for the peace of mind it provides. Not to mention that avoiding 1 more break in SAVED us our deductible – which is way more expensive than the monthly monitoring fee! 

Side Note: If you have pets, I would skip the motion sensors & opt for door, window & glass break sensors. The motion sensors can be customized, but we’ve had 1 false alarm with the cat, so it’s not really worth it. 

The more organized you are, the less likely they are to find a $20 sitting on your dresser. Now, when we’re getting ready to go, I’m not only cleaning like a crazy person – I’m trying to make sure everything valuable has a place (like in the safe!). Also, leave limited personal information out & about. We had bank statements sitting on my husband’s desk, and his whole office was TRASHED. For all we knew, they had our credit card & bank information, so we had to change every.single.thing as far as banking and billing was concerned – just incase! Let me tell you, it probably took an entire day to fix everything, between trips to the bank, calling the utility companies, and switching allllll of our auto-pay accounts….. what a pain. Keep your personal info where it should be – tucked away.

While house sitters, light timers, & having someone check in on your house can definitely help, you’re still very vulnerable while you’re not there doing a normal routine. Be safe, be smart, & I hope none of you have to deal with the annoying break-in process!

Have you even been broken into? What is your advice for protecting your home?