How to protect your empty second home

If you have a second home that you have to leave empty for extended periods of time, read these tips to help ensure you protect it as best as you possibly can.

A long blue swimming pool with villas at the end
Even if you’re surrounded my neighbours normally, they may not be there during the summer

Expats are a group of home owners that are particularly vulnerable to property crime, given that they may leave their home or homes empty for extended periods of time. The summer is a time for expat second-home owners to be especially vigilant, as it is harder for neighbours to spot the comings and goings of thieves when there may be higher numbers of visitors to the area.

What positive steps can you take to prepare and protect your second home?

Try to follow these six “Dos and Don’ts” to help secure your home this summer – some are obvious common sense actions, while others are a little more creative:

1. Don’t leave keys in door and window locks.
2. Don’t leave spare keys under doormats, in garages or sheds.
3. Don’t use a simple slide bolt on your garden gate – use a padlock and key when you go away.
4. Don’t leave mail with your name and address in the rubbish bins – it can be used by burglars to get a locksmith to provide a new key.
5. Don’t leaving packaging from new expensive appliances for the rubbish collectors to pick up while you are away. Burglars may not want the flat screen TV that you just bought but they will see that you have funds to buy one so may assume you have the other top things that burglars like such as jewellery, computers and cash.
6. Don’t hide valuables in the main bedroom, living room or dining room, they are the first places burglars head to.

A burglar entering a home at night
Don’t leave anything that’s easy to pinch lying around whether you’re out of the house for hours or weeks

1. Do put your land-line phone on silent while you are away, to stop tell-tale unanswered calls being heard from outside.
2. Do cut hedges and bushes that are close to the house walls – to remove ‘cover’ for burglars to hide in.
3. Do install and set burglar alarms.
4. Do use timers to turn radios and lights go on and off whilst you are away.
5. Do hide any valuables in the attic, basement, children’s rooms (hidden among toys), or the kitchen.
6. Do mark valuables with a UV pen so that you can prove ownership if the police find your valuable following a burglary. The UK has a free registry called Immobilise where you can register your valuables. (If you know of a similar scheme/programme where you live, do let me know in the comments section below.)

(These “Dos and Don’ts” include suggestions from: French Interior Ministry, the UK Home Office and the UK’s Met Police Force.)

Key under a stone
Don’t do it!

Two last tips…

Here’s something I do when I go away that you might like to copy: I ask my trusted neighbours to use my rubbish and recycle bins as well as their own and, of course, put the recycling out on the right days – they especially like using my green/garden recycling bin over the summer. Burglars have been known to “cruise” neighbourhoods checking to see which homes don’t have rubbish bins out – a clear indicator no one is home.

If you feel very uncomfortable about leaving your home empty read, ‘How to solve the empty second-home problem‘ for an alternative home security idea.