Van Beek: Offseason joys and woes
This time of year is filled with planned relaxation, but also excitement. We finally have time to spend with family and friends, escapes out of town, storing our winter toys, and bringing out the big guns of entertainment: the summer collection.
Four-wheeling, mountain biking, water rafting, camping gear, golf courses, trips to the lake with the motorboat, shopping around for a new BBQ grill, horseback riding, fishing, day hikes, hot-air ballooning, or simply sitting on the deck enjoying your favorite drink as you watch the sunset … the list of adventures and fun are endless. One of our most treasured springtime diversions is travel.
Among those things are trips to see out-of-town friends and those must-see destinations. These trips often take us away for weeks at a time. As we leave our Rocky Mountain bubble, remember to keep everything secure.
One of the things we enjoy most is sharing photos and plans with friends on social media. Those “likes” validate our choices and with a little editing, and make us look very good. However, that same media platform can be an invitation to those who just can’t wait for you to get away.
Please wait until you return home to post those incredible photos with your travel itinerary.
Announcing that you will be gone the first two weeks of June is a nice notice for those who will miss you, and even if unannounced, those photos of you scuba diving in Mexico, posted while there, will let them and others know that you are away from home, making it a big invitation to burglars, knowing that if they decide to enjoy the comforts and goodies of your home, you won’t be around to object.
Give the impression that you are home.
- Check all door and window locks, including pet doors, and the back door to the garage.
- Unplug your garage door opener, which can be vulnerable to thieves with garage door scanners.
- Install timers on light switches, preferably for different hours and multiple locations around the home.
- Install a motion detector flood light around your home to discourage wildlife of all species.
- Keep Alexa or Google playing music or preferably a talk channel like NPR to simulate people in discussion.
- Have a friend or neighbor come by, at different hours, and enter the home at least once every few days, to indicate activity and people in the home, and to bring in the mail.
- Have a neighbor temporarily park their car in your driveway, indicating someone coming and going.
- Continue your lawn and other home services while you are gone; these people can advise you if they see anything out of the ordinary and the activity discourages intruders.
- Bring in your potted plants — a dying plant is one sign that no one is there to care for it.
- If there has been a power outage, have a friend stop by to make sure the circuit breaker is back on and to double-check the settings so that your lights and other things are back to working order.
- Bring in your hide-a-key from that fake rock or magnetic holder. Thieves are very familiar with these devices and where to find them.
- While you may be tempted to close your window blinds while away, it is a sure tip that no one is home. Keep them tilted downward but open, so that it impairs a visual view across the room but still looks like someone may be there.
- Whether you have a dog or not, you may want to put a “Beware of Dog” sign in the window, with a large dog bowl outside, next to a thick worn-out chain, to indicate the possibility of an unfriendly reception if someone attempts to enter. I’ve also been told that there are available motion detectors that trigger an aggressive bark.
If you don’t have a monitored security system, install a do-it-yourself system. They are relatively inexpensive and will alert you via a phone app, wherever you are in the world. The video bells allow you to speak through the monitor, which will startle any burglar, often deterring a potential break-in. It will also help identify any suspects.
Installing a “smart lock” also allows greater control and monitoring of who enters your home, and if you forget to lock the door, you can do so remotely.
On an economical note, be sure to turn down your water heater and raise the air conditioning to 80 degrees so as not to waste energy.
These tips will help you to enjoy a safe spring and summer.
James van Beek is the Eagle County sheriff. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.