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Heading to your Seasonal Home in Florida? Some Tips to Protect Your Northern Residence while away.

Even though snowbirds typically don’t arrive here in Florida until the weather up North gets cold, Naples and Bonita Springs do see a small influx in seasonal homeowners returning from October to early December. Regardless of when you arrive, the trip to Southwest Florida can be costly if you fail to prepare your Northern home and property adequately. It’s a fact – burglars see vacations whether it’s a short or long one, as an opportunity to target empty homes.

There are more than 2.15 million burglaries each year, over 65 percent of which are residential break-ins. You can be rest assured that living in The Colony Golf & Bay Club’s single-family or high-rise homes, offers added security and protection, but it’s important to take care of your Northern residence prior to heading back to town.

So if you’re heading back to Naples or Bonita Springs Florida for a few months this fall, here are five preventive measures to keep your Northern residence safe:

• Make it time-consuming to break into your home. Dead-bolt window and door locks can slow a burglar down.

• Make it noisy to break into your home. Invest in a burglar alarm. The most effective systems ring at an outside service, which alerts the police, fire department, and other emergency services.

• Make sure you have strong doors. Outside doors and frames should be made of metal or solid hardwood and be at least 1¾-inches thick. Each door must fit its frame securely. Even the best lock will not deter a burglar if it is installed in a weak door. Garage doors also need strong locks. If you have a tool shed, keep it locked since burglars can use the tools to break into your home.

• Turn off your computer and disconnect it from the Internet. If you save personal information on your computer, make sure it is difficult to access. You don’t want a hacker at work while you are on vacation.

• Keep valuables under lock and key and well hidden. Do not leave personal documents in your home office or desk–burglars know to look for them there. Put critical documents in a lock box or safe somewhere else in the house. Keep copies of important documents at another location–a relative’s home, for example. Expensive jewelry should also be taken with you or hidden somewhere other than the bedroom or left in a safety deposit box at the bank.

As you prepare to head back down to Florida follow these additional steps to protect your Northern home:

• Keep your home well lit. Mount exterior lights out of reach of would-be burglars in your yard or on your house. Put indoor lights on a timer so that they go on and off at appropriate times, making it look as if the house is inhabited.

• Make the house look inhabited. Leave blinds or curtains open in their usual position. Put indoor lights on a timer. If you are going to be away for an extended period, arrange to have your lawn mowed in the summer and your driveway shoveled in the winter.

• Arrange to have mail forwarded or held by the post office. Forward your newspaper deliveries and ask a neighbor to pick-up “throw-away” circulars.

• Ask a neighbor for help. Ask a neighbor you trust to keep an eye on your home while you are gone. You may also want to tell your local police you will be away.

Once you’re back visiting the sunshine state, be sure to contact me for a tour of The Colony Golf & Bay Club!

Source: Insurance Information Institute (iii.org)

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