We're on the cusp of spring break. Do you want to let criminals know you're not home? Of course not!
But the sad fact is that there are so many ways we let our guard down and make ourselves susceptible to criminals. Fortunately, there are some basic precautions you can take to safeguard yourself.
Make sure your home stays safe when you're away on vacation
1. Do not post post updates on Facebook and Twitter while you're away. Only post pictures from your vacation when you're back at home. You don't want to alert "friends" who may be anything but that when you're out of town.
2. Get automatic timers. These will pop your lights on and off at the appropriate times of day, deterring criminals and saving electricity at the same time.
3. Suspend delivery of mail and newspapers. You can also either have a friend or relative collect your mail while you're away, or you can put in a temporary stop at your local post office.
4. Make sure the doors to your home and car are locked. People let their guard down in this respect too often as the weather warms up. You don't want a crook to just help him or herself to your property.
5. Consider a DIY alarm system. Before you head out of town, take a look at SimpliSafe.com. Prices start at just $15 a month for monitoring on simple burglar alarm systems you install yourself. No technical know how is necessary! Read an extensive review of the service here.
6. Don't forget about the basics of home security. This article about 13 things a burglar won't tell you has some sobering reminders about the simple things we do that inadvertently invite burglars into our homes.
7. Change your lock before you go. The locks on your doors are one of the main entry points into your home. Consumer Reports recently surveyed nearly two dozen popular locks on the market. A trio of reasonably priced locks got the "recommended buy" mark from the magazine, including the Kwikset 980 ($30), the Baldwin Prestige 380 ($40) and the Falcon D241 ($55).
8. Get an easy-to-install security camera. The Arlo is a wireless camera system for indoor or outdoor use. And get this: It requires no electrical hookup! It uses lithium batteries instead, just like electric cars do. That makes installation a breeze, not to mention re-installation...if you want to move the cameras around on a whim! With prices starting at $179, these things aren't exactly cheap...but they could be well worth it.
Read more: How to shop for home security systems
For more home security stories, see our Homes & Real Estate section.