HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Huntsville Police Department is encouraging homeowners to be cautious and to keep your home protected, even while you’re out of town.
With COVID-19 restrictions finally loosening across the country, people are getting out of the house and taking those long-awaited vacations. While you should enjoy some time away, you shouldn’t allow your home to be a target for the next break-in.
As Huntsville Police Officer Bruce Jansen says, something we all use each and every day can actually contribute to those break-ins, social media.
“When you go out of town, you’re always excited about: ‘Hey, I’m gonna post pictures because I’m on vacation and I want everybody to know how much fun I’m having!’ Well, that’s great,” said Officer Jansen. “We want you to share your life with your friends and your family, but we also don’t want you to share your life with the criminals.”
Social media is a huge tool for criminals and advertising that your home is empty is a bad move. Officer Jansen says a simple step that can protect your home and belongings is to simply wait until you return home to post photos.
“Don’t leave your key under the potted plant or the mat,” he adds. “These are places that criminals like to look. If you have a neighbor that you trust or like, contact them. Give them the key.”
Before you leave, check each door and window to make sure they are locked. In case a door or window is opened while you’re gone, an important tool for homeowners is an activated alarm system.
HPD responded to 9,973 alarm activations in 2020, but most were actually false alarms. Being familiar with your system is crucial to police response. Many alarm systems are not registered with the City, which makes it difficult to get in contact with homeowners or keyholders.
“We gather information as far as like, the homeowner or the business owner’s name, people who are registered as their keyholders that can come and actually open the door, should we suspect a crime inside,” said Officer Jansen.
Within the last week, the department posted a City Blog on tips for homeowners, listed below:
- Keep mum: Don’t post to social media or share photos from your trip while you’re gone.
- Reach out: If you have a friend or neighbor you trust, have them check on your home.
- Plan ahead: Ask the post office to hold your mail and have a friend or family member remove packages from your doorstep.
- Leave a light on: Turn at least one interior light on so it looks like someone is home.
- Don’t forget: Be sure to lock all doors and windows.
- Communicate: If your neighborhood has a community watch, let the organizer know you’ll be out of town, so they can keep an eye on your house.
- Contain your pets: Many times, a pet can cause a false alarm. Limit your pet’s access to certain areas of your home, so they don’t set off a motion detector.
- Avoid hiding spots: Do not leave spare keys hidden outside your home while you’re on vacation. Although a “hiding spot” may seem safe, someone wanting to access your home might have ample time to look for a key. Give your spare key to a trusted family member, friend or neighbor instead.
- Register your alarm: Don’t forget to register your alarm through the City of Huntsville.
- Check your batteries: Make sure your alarms are functioning properly. If they are battery-operated, check to see that the batteries are fresh.
In that same blog, HPD said you can call their non-emergency line, (256) 722-7100 for more information.