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Summer vacation: How to prevent home burglaries while away

With the summer months comes plenty of time for family vacations, but sadly unoccupied homes are easy targets for potential burglars.

While children are out of school and temperatures continue to rise, there are more chances to get outside and enjoy the weather, which leads to a small increase in home burglaries in the summer.

“The days are much longer, and it doesn’t get dark until 9 p.m., so people are out a lot longer,” said Officer Allan Seebaran of the Covington Police Department. “Of course it’s warmer too, so people like to get out and walk around. That definitely contributes to the slight increase in burglaries.”

For families planning a trip or expecting to be away from home for an extended period of time, it is important to make sure to follow these simple steps to prevent from falling victim to a home burglary.

Make sure all doors and windows are sealed

The first step when leaving home overnight is to make sure there are no easy entries into the residence. Carelessly leaving a window or back door unlocked is a surefire way to give a potential thief access to a family’s belongings.

Make sure that the garage door is closed and locked as well.

Officer Seebaran suggested even installing extra locks on doors and sealing windows.

“There are many ways you can do that,” he said. “You can install deadbolts and reinforce your locks. You can place large items in front of your windows to make it difficult for people to enter. You can also make sure your window screens are secured and go to a home improvement store and ask for different ways to secure your windows.”

Activate your alarm system

Those with alarm systems should activate them while they’re gone. Those without should consider getting one installed before leaving so that if a burglar does try to sneak into the house, the alarm system will alert police immediately.

“The best way to assist law enforcement if a burglary were to occur is to invest in a good alarm or surveillance system,” said Seebaran. “Proper signage showing that you have this system indicates opportunists that there is a system on the property and their presence will be acknowledged.”

Make your house look occupied

Keep burglars away by tricking them into thinking someone is home. Do this is by leaving lights on around the house. Lights near the front door, back door, and bedroom windows can give the illusion that someone is already inside. Lights on a timer should be set to come on when it gets dark at night.

“Lights with timers that come on and off can indicate that someone is in the house,” Seebaran said. “It gives a realistic look that the house is occupied. You can get those at Walmart or your local home improvement store for a very reasonable price.”

Also be sure to have adequate exterior lighting. Motion-sensitive lights are ideal for backyards.

Stop mail/package delivery

If mail begins to pile up, it’s an indication to outsiders that residents have been away from home for several days. Place a hold on mail or newspapers, and request specific delivery dates for after a vacation.

“You can have a trusted neighbor check your mail or newspaper circulars while you’re gone,” said Seebaran. “Also have the neighbor keep an eye on your house to see if they notice any suspicious activity.”

Arrange house checks/extra patrols

While out of town, both the Covington Police Department and the Newton County Sheriff’s Office offer services to do checks around a resident’s home.

“The officer will go out to the property several times during his shift and check on the house,” Seebaran said. “He’ll walk around the house and make sure that everything is secure.”

To have CPD to do a house check, visit and click on the “Vacation Watch” tab and fill out a request form four to five days prior to a trip, or fill the form out in person at the police department, 1143 Oak Street Covington, Georgia 30014 to fill out a form in person.

To request extra patrol from the NCSO, make a request by phone by calling the sheriff’s office patrol division at 678-625-1400 or by filling out an Extra Patrol Request Form at the office at 15151 Alcovy Road NE Covington, Georgia 30014.

If it looks like the house has been burglarized while the family has been away, Seebaran urges that people to call law enforcement immediately.

“If they have any indication at all that the house does not look the same as the way they left it, just call for law enforcement and we’ll enter the home and make sure everything is secure before they enter the house,” Seebaran said. “That way, if someone is in there, we can address it, or if a burglary did occur, we’ll be able to visually see what house is like.”