NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Are you planning a trip out of town? With many schools getting ready for Spring Break, chances are a vacation may be in your plans. If so, Chief Parenti has a few tips to ensure that your home is safer from criminals attempting to take advantage of your absence:
Several days before you leave:
- Notify your local law enforcement agency about your departure and return dates, and give a name and telephone number of a neighbor or relative to notify in case of a burglary, fire or other emergency..
- Notify the Post Office to hold your mail, or arrange with a neighbor to pick up and hold your mail.
- Notify your newspaper carrier to discontinue newspaper deliveries, or arrange with a neighbor to pick up and hold your papers.
- Make arrangements to have your grass cut and watered while you are gone. Have someone check daily to remove throwaway papers and circulars from your doorway and yard.
- If you have valuables in the house, take them to the bank for storage in your safe deposit box. Deposit extra cash in your bank account.
- Move valuables so they can't be seen from the porch windows. Be sure you have a list of small appliances and valuables.
- Make sure any broken window, door locks and window locks are repaired.
- Put things away. Lawn furniture, bicycles, etc., should be put away before leaving. Items left out can easily be stolen.
- Arrange with a neighbor or relative to watch your house. Give them a key and let them know where or how you can be reached in an emergency. Write down their telephone number so you can check with them during your trip. Give them your car description and license number.
- Arrange inspection by a trusted neighbor if you will be gone for more than a few days, to be sure that nothing has been disturbed.
Just before you leave
- Turn down the volume control on your telephone so it cannot be heard from outside.
- Set an electrical timer to turn on some lights and a radio on and off during the day and evening hours. Added protection can be achieved if you have a neighbor rearrange the timer - controlled lights so that a pattern is not established in your absence.
- Unplug all electrical appliances such as stereos, televisions sets, irons, washer and fans to prevent possible damage from electrical storms.
- Make sure that all gas appliances are in good working order, and that pilot lights are working.
- Turn off water to automatic washer to prevent possible damage from broken hoses.
- Set your thermostat so that your furnace and air-conditioner will maintain a reasonable temperature while you are gone.
- Close all windows and sliding glass doors, and be sure that all screens or storm windows are locked or fastened.
- Close and lock your garage door.
- Put the window shades in the normal daytime position, and make sure all main floor drapes, shades and curtains are arranged so that neighbors and police can see into your house. Do not close blinds, pull shades down or do other things that advertise that your house is empty.
- Make sure the last person out locks the door. Then, take a walk around the house. Check the doors and windows.
- If you leave a car or other vehicle in your driveway, make sure it is locked.
In case of a break-in, the neighbor should be instructed to not go in the house until the police have arrived and cleared the house. They should know how to reach you and your insurance agent, and should give this information to the appropriate law enforcement agency when reporting a suspected burglary.