When your mailbox is full, it's an indication the house or apartment is vacant. Consider replacing a small mailbox with a larger one to keep your mail out of sight. If you are going to be away for more than two days, ask Canada Post to hold your mail and call the newspaper office to stop delivery until you return. Have a neighbour hold any free newspapers and junk mail for you. A pile of papers and mail is a clear sign your home is vacant.
Burglars can pick up on all sorts of signs that you're away. The "lived-in" look can fool them. Arrange to have someone mow the lawn or shovel the walk, clear your car off if it snows, or park a car in your driveway if you're taking yours. You can even ask a neighbour to put a bag of garbage at your curb on garbage day.
Give a trusted neighbour a spare set of keys and tell him or her:
◦when you're leaving and returning, ◦where you're going, ◦how you can be reached in case of emergency (a phone number), ◦when you expect to return, and ◦if anybody will be at your home (gardener, repairperson).
Ask the neighbour to keep an eye out for anything suspicious and simply to check your house once in a while. A house that is dark 24 hours a day is a telltale sign. Set lights on timers in various rooms. Timers are inexpensive and effective, especially the multiple-program type.
Have the lights go on and off at different times each day, so a burglar can't pick up on a pattern. Using timers on lights or certain appliances gives your home a "lived-in" look that thwarts robbers. Motion sensor lights outside can also startle a burglar and make him flee. Consider installing them at the front and back of your house.
Don't advertise that your home is empty by leaving notes on your door saying you're away. People sometimes do this when they're expecting deliveries, but if a burglar reads it you may just as well leave the front door open. Ensure your doors and windows are securely locked. Don't forget about the garage; unplug the overhead opener. Make sure you take the key out of the door when you lock up. You'd be surprised how often people forget! To be extra safe, place a block of wood in the lower track of sliding doors or windows to prevent them from being forced open.
Burglars know all the hiding spots for valuables. If you can't bear the thought of a favourite piece of jewellery being stolen, put it in a safety deposit box while you're gone. Your insurance company will help if you suffer a loss, but sentimental items can never be replaced.
Take an inventory of your goods and ensure it is in a safe place away from your home. If you do suffer a loss, it will make filing a claim much easier. It's difficult to remember how many CDs you have, what the winter boots look like and what the pattern of Granny's silver was. Use a tape recorder, video camera or digital camera to speed up the process. Or use a company that specializes in videotaping belongings. Remember your homeowner's policy will cover your possessions temporarily removed from your home – that includes the contents of your suitcase – so keep track of what you've packed.
Courtesy - Insurance Bureau of Canada and Marsh's Private Client Services
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