Home > Blog > Burglary and Crime > How to Prevent Winter Burglaries on Your Vacant Home

How to Prevent Winter Burglaries on Your Vacant Home

Posted: October 12, 2017

Ditching the winter chill for a beach might offer a vacation from the colder climate, but what about your winter crime concerns for your vacant home? An empty home is ripe opportunity for an intruder looking for an easy score. Here are a few things you can do to protect your home from burglaries in the winter:

  1. Install a monitored security system

  2. Hire a caretaker or house sitter for the property

  3. Use automated lighting

  4. Make sure you have functioning fire alarms and flood sensors

  5. Notify local authorities of your absence

  6. Take efforts to make your house look occupied

  7. Check into vacant property insurance

  8. Ensure packages and mail have been forwarded

  9. Make sure all points of entry are security locked

  10. Use motion lighting

  11. Remove any spare keys from property

  12. Keep the lawn maintained or driveway shoveled

  13. Manually bolt garage door

  14. Consider cameras

  15. Don’t reference your empty home on social media

Some families prefer the warmth of the sun to the chills that come with winter weather. If you plan to pack up and head toward the heat, you will have a vacant home to protect against winter crime. According to the FBI, burglaries of residential properties are the most common types of property crimes in the United States. So, if you are among the throngs who travel to warmer climates when the temperatures take a dive, there are a few winter crime elements you may want to think about.

Winter blues? Property crime rates in the winter

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics Seasonal Patterns in Criminal Victimization Trends, rates of “household crimes tended to be higher in the summer than during other seasons of the year.” But, even though rates were higher, the difference in seasons was less than an 11 percent difference. And although summer months showed a higher rate for burglaries, the month of December is a close second for home invasions.

In a study of 86 burglars, KGW.com tried to determine what motivates burglars to attempt a break-in. The majority of those surveyed reported that being seen was a huge factor in identifying a potential target. Burglars preferred overhanging trees or shrubs, tall fences, or any other object they could use to disguise their presence. Make sure you don’t fall prey to winter crime with these tips:

  • If you have a fenced property, choose iron or other materials that provide a clear line of sight from the street.
  • Keep all shrubs and trees trimmed.
  • Have someone mow your lawn.
  • Hire someone to shovel your driveway in snowy conditions.
  • Use lighting to eliminate darkened pathways.

The heat might be taking the season off, but intruders aren’t.

bundle up with a monitored security system

Bundle up with a monitored security system

A monitored security system is a perfect accompaniment for a home that is often vacant. Why? Because someone has eyes on your property to help protect against burglaries in the winter.

What’s the difference between a monitored security system and a DIY system?

Monitored security systems are professionally installed and require ongoing subscription fees. The subscription fees give you access to the monitoring services which include an immediate response when issues arise, constant observation by professionals, and notification of emergency services, when necessary.

DIY security systems are typically self-installed and all monitoring and response are the responsibility of the homeowners. If an alarm occurs, it is up to you to determine if a real issue exists and to contact the appropriate emergency services.

Monitored home security systems are particularly useful for those spending lengthy amounts of times in alternate locations because a professional is constantly monitoring and responding to winter crimes on your property. The study conducted by KGW.com revealed that most burglars were deterred by home security alarms. With a monitored system, you know you’re covered against burglaries in the winter.

You might also consider a camera. Integrating cameras into your home security system can provide the evidence you need that a break-in has occurred in your absence.


Don’t get stuck in the cold: Consider vacant or unoccupied insurance coverage

Unoccupied homes can be especially appealing winter crime targets. The average burglary takes between 8 and 12 minutes from start to finish. Intruders like to be in and out so that they aren’t detected. But with vacant homes, burglars can take their time. In a normal smash-and-grab job, burglars go for high-value items that are easy to move (electronics, cash, prescriptions, etc.). Even in this small window, the average property loss is approximately $2,200. Imagine the damage if an intruder is permitted to take his time. You might consider protecting yourself against winter crime with vacant or unoccupied insurance coverage.

Because insurance companies are aware of the dangers associated with vacant homes, most major providers offer vacant or unoccupied insurance coverage. If you leave your home for an extended period because you are escaping the winter blues, there may be limitations to what your homeowners insurance will cover. By purchasing this additional insurance, you can be sure you are covered.

No sun for the winter? Make your own light

Lighting your property is a smart deterrent. Using automated lighting to keep the perimeter shining makes it tough for burglars to hide in the shadows. Intruders worry about being seen. Keeping automated lighting over your driveway, backyard, and points of entry will prevent any sneaky characters from using the dark to their advantage.

You might also consider automated lighting for your interior. Interior lights give the impression that someone is home. Most burglars prefer to enter unoccupied homes. If you choose this tactic, program lights to come on and turn off at normal times.

winterize your home make it look occupied

Winterize your home: Make it look occupied

Most burglaries occur between 10 am and 3 pm. This is primarily due to the fact that most homes are unoccupied at this time of day. The average burglar chooses a home because no one is there. If you truly want to help protect your home from burglaries in the winter,, make it seem occupied. In addition to lighting and lawn maintenance, you can employ a few methods to make it seem like someone is home:

  • Hire a caretaker or house sitter
  • Leave a car in the driveway
  • Forward your mail and packages
  • Bring in trash cans
  • Keep blinds pulled

As Kevin McAllister has proven, an empty home doesn’t have to be an easy target.

Protect your house from the elements: Flood sensors and fire alarms

Break-ins are a concern for any homeowner, but residents are often saddled with large bills that have nothing to do with home invasions. Often, homeowners incur lots of damage as a result of fire or floods. Make sure your home is properly equipped with fully functioning smoke detectors. You may also consider flood sensors. These devices are important for detecting problematic conditions and notifying you before you have to pick up the wreckage.

If you elect to go with a monitored security system, you can integrate fire alarms and flood sensors with your home security. In this case, your monitoring service will notify the proper emergency services if a fire or flood is detected.

While we can’t suggest you go the way of Home Alone, there are ways to help keep your home protected against winter crime. Try out our tips.