When most people think of the holiday season, they think of joy, family, and giving. However, for someone who’s planning a burglary, they may see an ideal time to strike. The winter holiday season is extremely popular for travel, leaving plenty of homes empty and vulnerable.

While some sources report an increase in burglaries in December, others have found that burglaries are highest in the summer. Regardless of what the statistics are, if you plan to travel this holiday season, make sure to reduce your risk of a break-in by following these five home safety tips.

1. Hold Mail & Make a Hidden Place for Packages

Having your mail held by the post office isn’t just for the sake of your overflowing mailbox, but also a way to prevent your home from looking empty. A big pile of mail stacking up tells passersby that no one has been home lately.

And it’s not just the valuables in your home that are vulnerable. If packages arrive at your house while you’re away, porch thieves will be tempted to snatch them. According to a 2019 report, 43% of Americans have had a package stolen. Try and create a place where packages will be hidden from the street, such as a bin placed behind some plants. You can even buy a parcel drop box, which allows packages to be dropped in but not taken out.

2. Set up Automatic Light Timers

To light, or not to light? If you’re wondering whether to leave your lights on or off while away, the answer is both. Keeping your lights on all the time will kill your electric bill, and is not realistic looking. Keeping your lights off the whole time will make it obvious that no one is home. So what’s the solution?

Purchase smart light timers that will turn on the lights at certain times. You can set these devices to either turn the lights on when the sun goes down every night, or set a more random schedule to increase believability. Either way, it will look more like a normal, realistic day at your house.

3. Lock Everything, Including Windows

Locking up your house may seem obvious, but there are a few locks that are easy to overlook. It’s natural to lock your doors before leaving the house, but going away on vacation is a good time to lock EVERYTHING.

This includes every window (no matter what floor of the house), the door to the garage, and the garage door itself (if possible). Don’t forget to lock any gates to your property; if someone enters your property but doesn’t make it in the house, you could still have a premises liability case on your hands.

4. Tell Neighbors You’ll Be Gone

This plan won’t work for everyone, especially if you don’t feel comfortable talking to your neighbors or if they will also be traveling. However, you should ideally let someone trustworthy on your street or in your building know when you’ll be gone. Make sure to give them your contact information too, so that if they see anyone suspicious on your property they can alert you.

5. Keep Your Travel Plans Offline

While it can be tempting to update your social media followers with your holiday plans, the less information you put out there, the better. Even if your profiles are set to private, you never know who could take advantage of your detailed itinerary. It’s been known to happen, and police make warnings about it every year.

These tips are a good start to securing your home over the holidays, but the more safety precautions you take, the better. These days you can find plenty of affordable security cameras, which are a great safety measure year-round. If despite your best efforts your home is still burglarized over the holidays, don’t panic – that’s what homeowners insurance is for. If you run into any trouble filing a claim, contact a homeowners insurance lawyer for help. Otherwise, have a safe and secure holiday vacation!