You’ve packed your suitcase and scheduled your trip, but before you board the plane, take the time to protect your home while you’re on vacation. July and August are popular vacation months, and not surprisingly, they are also the months when home break-ins occur most frequently.

To fully enjoy your trip, plan for proper home security and maintenance with this checklist.

inside the house

  • Program synchronizers for interior lights. This goes a long way in deterring thieves, who often look for easy opportunities to commit crimes. Do not let it seem that there is no one in your home.
  • Electrical overloads. You never know if an electrical surge could happen , so be prepared. Unplug your computer, TV, stereo, and other electronics, or make sure they’re safely plugged into a surge protector.
  • Don’t do status updates on social media. Never broadcast your location on social media. Even if you think only your friends or colleagues see your online profiles, it’s safest to leave no chance for a break-in.
  • Notify your alarm company. If you have an automatic security system installed, call your representative to let them know that you will be out of your home for an extended period of time. Make sure the alarm is set correctly when you leave. There are also some ways of remote monitoring with your smartphone .
  • Insure valuables. If you don’t already have your jewelry or other valuables in a safe deposit box, now might be the time to do so. Doing this also ensures that you don’t leave anything of value out in the open that a thief could see from a window.
  • Program the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system. Set a programmable thermostat to lower your heating or cooling usage and remember to change the batteries.
  • Protect your pipes. Make sure pipes in vulnerable areas such as attics, basements, and crawl spaces are insulated. In unusually cold weather, set your thermostat at 55 degrees or higher. Ask a trusted neighbor or friend to stop by and check your house and periodically turn on the water to make sure the pipes don’t freeze.
  • Check the doors and windows. It may seem obvious but check twice to be sure. Lock all doors and windows.

outside the house

  • Arrange for lawn care. Ask a trusted neighbor or local service to take care of your garden. Before you leave, trim any tree limbs that might allow a thief to climb on them.
  • Suspend newspapers and mail. Stop delivering newspapers and mail or ask a neighbor to pick them up regularly. Again, it is not recommended to leave clear clues of your absence to a thief by piling newspapers on the door.
  • Plan to have some outdoor lighting. Also program these lights with timers to deter thieves.
  • Do not leave extra keys outside the house. Collect all the additional keys that you have hidden outside the house. Remember, thieves know the most popular hiding places, like under rugs and potted plants.
  • Lock the garage. Even if there is no driveway to your home from the garage, there is still the possibility of countless things being stolen. Secure the door and any entrance to the garage.