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You've had the reservations for over a year now. You booked your hotel, you mapped out your daily agenda, you researched places to tour and the best restaurants to eat at. You purchased new clothes and travel size containers for your luggage. You scheduled your dogs at the boarders. You are so prepared and ready for vacation!!

But are you really? People are aways so wound up and excited for their vacations, that in the anticipation of it all, they forget to do the most important thing of all…prepare their home to be safe from a robbery or a break in.   

Nothing can be more enticing to a robber than seeing your home being advertised that it is currently not being occupied. The newspapers are piled up on the porch, your mailbox is crammed full, your home is dark at night and the curtains are pulled shut. What message do you get from this? "Ahhh…Hello…we are not home, please rob me." 

When you know you are going to be away, it is vital you take the necessary steps to deter any kind of robbery or break in. It's very easy to do, but so many people neglect to do it. Please note, that you may make all the precautions necessary and still have a break in. However, by following some of these tips, it will make it harder for a robbery to happen.

Security Systems: if possible, get a security system installed. Would-be robbers actually think twice before robbing a home where an alarm service is being used. A lot of people use the doorbell systems and cameras purchased online that one installs their self. There are so many options out there, find the one that works best for you. 

Locked Doors and Windows: locking your windows and doors seems elementary right? But maybe you should "seriously lock" and secure them, leaving just one "seriously" unsecured. By this I mean using door slams, security bars, a sliding door latch, window frame fasteners and more. My dad used a heavy piece of wood in his sliding glass doors, making it impossible to open.   

Stop your newspaper delivery and your daily mail deliveries. Have a neighbor on alert for any packages that delivery companies leave at your door. Also, have them keep an eye out for suspicious people or activity and instruct them to call the authorities if they do see this.

If you are planning on being away for over a week, you may want to hire someone to cut your grass (summer). High grass and weeds are a sure sign of an unoccupied place. 

Put several of your interior lamps on timers. Use the kind that can be programmed to go on and off at various times and program lamps in several rooms, so they light at different times. 

Leave the light on above the stove. The kitchen is the one room that tends to have lights on the most. 

For the exterior, make sure your outside lights are on. Schedule motion/time sensors to come on at the appropriate time, and make sure that they are mounted high enough that they can't be reached without a ladder. Most likely, the thief won't want to draw attention to himself by using a ladder to mess with them.

Consider putting your TV on a timer so that it goes on and off in the afternoon and again in the evening.  If not that, have a radio on to a talk station as opposed to music. 

If you have a land line phone, turn down your volume so a long series of unanswered rings don't alert someone to the fact that you are not there. If you have an answering machine, please don't leave that happy, excited message of "We're not home right now, we are laying on a beach in Aruba, please leave a message." You get the drift. Make your message a little like "We can't make it to the phone right now." Be sure you check your messages frequently to keep your message box from becoming full.

Close or open your curtains? Closing them may be a dead giveaway, but open curtains allow someone to peek inside. Perhaps try leaving the lower-level windows closed and keep the upper levels open. 

Fake Dog Barking? You know they make a motion detection machine that will signal for a dog to bark once activated right? Some believe that robbers would not be deterred by that, others not so. Why not give it a shot though, right? 

Vacations are memory making times and everyone deserves to have the time of their life! At First Choice Realtors, we hope that you can put some of these tips to use when planning your next vacation. Nothing can destroy all those memories faster than returning to a home that has been broken into and robbed. Stay Safe!

Have a great vacation! 



Wheeling Lighting Upgrades

The right lighting can transform your home and make your rooms feel brand new. There is a myriad of lighting options you can install that will breathe new life into your home. The following are seven lighting upgrades that our real estate agents highly recommend.

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Prevent Holiday Season Break-ins
Are you a new homeowner in the area, having found your dream home among the listings of Wheeling homes for sale? If so, you should know that the holiday season can be a risky one no matter where you live. While most of us may see the holidays as a time for family, friends, festivities and fun, others see the season as an opportunity for ill-gotten gains. Our REALTORS® are happy to help clients with homeownership concerns they might have. So what can you do to reduce your risk of being a victim of thievery during the hectic holiday season?

Here are six ways to prevent holiday break-ins this year:

  1. Never Let Your Home Look Empty
    Homes that are empty are prime targets for burglars. When you're away from home, create the illusion someone is there. Put your mail and newspaper delivery on hold, arrange for your walkways and driveway to be kept clear of snow, and have indoor and outdoor lights and your TVs switch on and off with timers. Also, if possible, leave a vehicle parked in the driveway while you're away.

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