There are several points to consider before leaving home for a week or two during the holiday season, or even for just an extended weekend. The first is to make a friend, neighbor or family member aware of your plans and have them visit the house several times during your vacation. This will be to remove newspapers, mail or packages from sight and check the entire property. Unclaimed mail is a major indicator to many burglars that a family is away for the holidays.

Make sure the garage door is closed and locked. Surprisingly many people will go on vacation and leave their garage doors open as they leave. While there may not be anything that is of concern or value in their garage, though that is not always the case, a common way for burglars to enter homes illegally is through the sub standard door traditionally hung between the home and the garage. If closing the garage door is not a frequent habit of a household, then the inner, connecting door should be replaced with a strong reinforced steel door that locks with a high quality deadbolt.

Lock doors and windows. This advice includes all doors and windows, both ground floor and upper level windows. Many burglaries frequently take place due to second story windows being left open while the homeowner is away.

Place lights and electronic equipment on timers. This is a classic method of creating the appearance of occupancy, and with the advent of "smart timers" that will turn lights and equipment on at random times, rather then the same exact time each day; this can be a great trick and burglary prevention method.

Turn the answering machine volume down. This is something many people don't often consider, and while the message should never clearly state that residents are "not at home" or "away on vacation until..." nor should a potential intruder be able to hear any of the incoming messages. This is because a friend or family member might indicate that you are not anticipated back or say something to let an eavesdropping burglar know the house is empty.

Finally, investigate a home security system installation. For year round protection there really is nothing to compare with a monitored home security system that is professionally installed by an experienced specialist. A home security installer will be able to indicate areas of weakness in a home's security and make the appropriate recommendations to effectively eliminate them. Home security systems are available with smoke, fire and carbon monoxide detectors as well and can really deliver peace of mind to homeowners during their regular daily routines or when they are far away on a vacation.

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