Home safety tips for holiday travelers

Home safety tips for holiday travelers
Published: Nov. 21, 2015 at 3:48 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 21, 2015 at 4:11 AM EST
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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - We're coming up on the busiest travel time of the year.

Triple-A is now telling WTOC that more or your friends and neighbors will be traveling this Thanksgiving holiday than they have in nearly a decade.

But fewer people at home also means more targets for thieves.

Savannah-Chatham Metro Police has seen a nearly 10 percent increase in property crime reports compared to this time last year.

WTOC Safety and Security Expert, Gary Glemboski, says his first piece of advice is to know that thieves are smarter than you think.

"They know people are traveling, they're going to be on the lookout for those tell-tale signs that nobody's home," said Glemboski.

Things like newspapers in the driveway, an overstuffed mailbox and no lights on in the house.

"So they're going to do everything they can to not get caught. They look for patterns and signs that regular people may ignore or take for granted," said Glemboski. "If I were to come by and see this [vacant house], what I would think is that there hasn't been anybody home or done anything in a while."

We did a walk-around of a house to look for do's and don'ts to keep your home safe. One of the biggest crime deterrents: light.

"You've got the lights back here on the corner, which illuminate the area immediately around the house, which is good. But you can see there's some dark shadows back here, some other trees back here. Somebody could hide back there if they were peeping out the house or whatever," said Glemboski.

Motion sensor lights or flood lights do the trick, but the key is to not leave any dark corners in your yard.

"Light's cheap insurance," said Glemboski.

Another tip: cut back shrubs in front of low windows. You don't want to give a burglar a hiding spot to work on opening that window.

"You have a shrub here that's probably getting to the point now where it probably needs to be trimmed down a little bit. You can see even though we're right here on top of it, if there was somebody standing there and you didn't know there was somebody standing there, it would be difficult to tell," said Glemboski.

Speaking of windows, Glemboski said it's all too common for people to leave them unlocked, especially after opening them in cooler months.

He suggests doing a walkthrough to double-check all locks before leaving town.

"Sounds like maybe a bit of a pain, but an ounce of prevention is a lot better than coming home and finding out your house has been broken into," said Glemboski.

A few more tips to keep in mind. Have a trusted neighbor or relative check on the house while you're away. Set appliance timers to turn on different lights in the house at random times. And be careful about posting your vacation plans on social media.

Your Facebook friends can wait. Share your whereabouts and trip photos after you return home.

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