What boomers can do to prevent burglaries

Protecting Your Home While You Travel

by Gary Foreman

You always wanted to travel more, but with the kids and a tight work schedule, it just wasn't possible. But, baby boomers are now empty-nesting and have earned more vacation time. So what's a responsible boomer to do? They take an Easy Rider trip they couldn't do 40+ years ago.

Today, traveling boomers face different threats than Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper did. Boomers need to be concerned about protecting their home while away. Did you know that there are more than two million burglaries each year (Insurance Information Institute) and that thieves love to hit when no one is home? So try these tools to keep your possessions safely at home while you're enjoying the beaches of Maui.

If you're a boomer, you already know not to let mail or newspapers stack up. Even dumb criminals notice that the mailbox hasn't been emptied for days and that newspapers are scattered over the lawn. Ideally you can have a neighbor pick them up on a daily basis. If you don't have a trusted neighbor, you should have delivery stopped while you're away.

Related: Frugal RV Traveling Tips

The same thing is true for any packages. You're smart enough not to buy items for delivery while you're gone, but do you have anything that comes automatically on a regular basis? Make sure that you stop delivery or have them picked up.

When we were young, the Coasters told us to take out the papers in the trash. As traveling boomers, we still need to do that. Just as thieves notice an overflowing mailbox, they also notice what's not happening. If your trashcan isn't curbside on consecutive pickup days, the bad guys will figure you're not home. Ask your neighbor to put their trash in your can and drag it out to the curb.

Be careful what you say and post online. More boomers are enjoying Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. It's fun to tweet that you're having coffee on the Santa Monica Pier. It's even more fun to post a picture to your Facebook or Pinterest account. But, if you do, you've informed the whole world that you're not home. Your friends will be happy for you and retweet or like your post. Burglars will look up your address and steal your stuff.

Let there be light. When we were making out in the day, we always looked for a secluded place with only the moonlight to illuminate the night. Burglars have a different goal, but like the same conditions. They don't want to be seen, so they look for a home that's clothed in darkness. They'll avoid houses that are well lit at night. You should have outdoor lighting around windows and doors. Timers that turn on lights from dusk to dawn are best. But even if you have to leave a light burning 24/7, it'll only cost pennies. These are pennies that could save you big bucks when you don't have to replace your stuff.

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Time your inside lights. You can buy timers for just a few dollars. Make your home look lived in. Turn on a family room light at 5pm and off when you normally go to bed. Especially for rooms with windows that can be seen from the street, set lights in other rooms to mimic when you're at home.

Make sure your lawn is cared for. Depending on the season, you may need to have the grass cut. In winter, make sure the snow is shoveled. You wouldn't ignore either if you were at home. Grass that's not mowed or snow that's not shoveled is a magnet for bad guys.

Consider a security system. When boomers were kids, everyone watched out for their neighborhood. It would have been hard for a stranger to enter the Beaver's home. Unfortunately, that's not generally true anymore, so you might want to consider getting a security system for your home. The newer systems are easier to install and cost less than what was available just a few years ago. Some even allow you to monitor and even control your home over the internet.

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Finally, if you're going to be gone for more than a few days, consider getting a housesitter. With one, you don't need to fool the burglars. There is someone staying in the house that could catch them. Ideally you can find a friend for the job. You do want to be careful giving the keys to a stranger. Having some college student throw a toga party could be worse than being robbed!

Whether you're taking the vacation of a lifetime in Maui or that cross country trip on your new cycle, make sure that your homestead is safe while you're away. After all, it's hard being Peter Fonda cool when you're worried about your stuff!

Reviewed May 2017

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Gary Foreman

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters in 1996. He's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money, Credit.com and CreditCards.com. Gary shares his philosophy of money here. You can follow Gary on Twitter. Gary is also available for audio, video or print interviews. For more info see his media page.

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