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Stop the Crime: Five Surprising Ways Thieves and Burglars Know You’re on Vacation

Updated on February 4, 2012
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© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.

A long vacation can provide a relaxing and refreshing break from your regular routine unless it’s marred by a break-in at your home or theft of your luggage. You may take the standard precautions of stopping mail delivery and installing timers so your lights come off and on as though you were home. But thieves have other ways to know you’re out. Find out what those are and how you can defend against crime.

Social Media

Facebook, Twitter and personal blogs are a popular way to share your trips and pics with your friends and relatives. However, thieves and burglars also patrol social media to look for travelers who have left their homes empty. A Google search with a few well-chosen parameters can locate these trip announcements. If you post updates on your vacation constantly, criminals can monitor the status of your return and go back to your home several times.

Defense: Post your vacation pictures and information after you get back. If you must keep your friends and relatives updated, set up a private Facebook page or group that’s open only to members.

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Internet Security Cameras

If you use an Internet-enabled camera to keep an eye on your house, then any hacker can do the same thing. The same thing is true if your computer has a built-in camera and is connected 24-hours-a-day to the web. Anyone with know-how can activate that device without your knowledge so they can peek at your private spaces. This article is not going to help criminals by explaining how camera-hacking is achieved. Sadly, that information is easy enough to find with a Google search.

Defense: Turn any Internet-enabled cameras off if you’re leaving for an extended period. If you need to leave your computer on for some reason, and it has a built-in camera, put a yellow sticky or some other cover over the lens.

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Luggage Tags

Because your luggage tag contains your name and address, it identifies your ownership and allows air carriers and hotels to return your belongings if you lose them. But they also reveal to thieves the location of a home that won’t have its occupants for a while. Less sophisticated criminals may try to cut off your tags while you’re distracted. Smarter thieves can just take a picture of your tags with their smartphone cameras while standing next to you in the check-in line. Others may use zoom cameras to get shots from a distance.

Defense: Put your company name and business address on the tag, so you’re bags can still reach you at work if they get lost. You can also use the name of friends or relative who will be at their homes while you’re on vacation though ask for permission first.

Return Messages

You put your email account, cell phone message and home phone message in Vacation mode because you don’t like to leave people hanging. For email, this means anyone who sends you something receives an automated response telling them that you’re gone and when you’ll return. Your recorded voice messages may say the same thing. Of course, this tells any thief who is checking up on you that you’re gone.

Defense: Don’t set your accounts to Vacation mode or otherwise change your recordings. Instead, forward all your messages to a friend, relative or co-worker who can manage your accounts for you. Give them explicit instructions on how to handle different types of contacts, from ignoring them to giving neutral responses to stating that you’re inaccessible due to an important project.

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Please Clean Room

To signal the housekeepers of your hotel that you’re out of your room, you usually hang the Please Clean Room sign on the knob. Unfortunately, that message also gets broadcast to someone who may clean your room of all your possessions before the maids ever get there.

Defense: Do not use this sign at all. Or better yet always put the Do Not Disturb on your doorknob. Whenever you leave, inform that front desk that you’re out for the day but that you’re leaving that sign on the door. That way, the maid will know to come and clean your room.

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    • vibesites profile image

      vibesites 5 years ago from United States

      Hah! Now I know. It's a very useful hub. Learning from this, I am now able to make ways on how to outsmart those burglars and protect myself and my property. I like reading this. :)

    • alocsin profile image
      Author

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      That's very wise, Millionaire Tips.

    • Melis Ann profile image

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Great advice for travelers once again. I have always been careful with social media and it has been surprising to see so many people posting vacation information. I never thought about the luggage tags - wow. That seems so obvious now. Thanks and sharing this!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      These are very useful tips. I have made luggage tags that do not show the information until the flap is open. I hadn't thought about it as a theft deterrent device, but I guess it is.

    • profile image

      WhydThatHappen 5 years ago

      Very clever methods here- thanks for the heads up. Photos of my tags never would have crossed my mind!

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 5 years ago from Pune, India

      Great research, very useful information for everybody.

      Share with followers.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Very useful tips but unfortunately I haven't been able to give myself a vacation in a long time. Will surely remember to use it when I do.

      Voting up, useful and sharing for the benefit of those who are on the move frequently.

    • rmcleve profile image

      Rachael Cleveland 5 years ago from Woodbridge, VA

      Good points! Many of these were things we were told when we moved overseas with the US government. We were even broken into one time. The thief had been watching our house long enough to know when we should be out. Little did he know that I was home!

      Always pay attention to the information you reveal to the world. Think about how it may be interpreted for good or bad and try to take care of yourself! Be safe.

    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 5 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

      Hello, Alocsin, very interesting hub. What you say makes perfect sense, I had never thought about it, I mean, cameras, luggage, everything... It's a bit scary also. I think I'll be more aware from now on and will take your advices into consideration. Voted up and useful! Thanks for SHARING! And have a good day!

    • alocsin profile image
      Author

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Thanks all for stopping by. I hope these spare tips spare you some gift.

    • alocsin profile image
      Author

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Purely theoretical speculation on my part, PDX. I was never indicted ;)

    • Kristine Manley profile image

      Donna Kristine 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I will most certainly use these ideas. I like the idea of putting your company name and business address on your luggage tags. Great tips!

    • chspublish profile image

      chspublish 5 years ago from Ireland

      Thanks for the very good, sensible tips all round.

    • nenytridiana profile image

      nenytridiana 5 years ago from Probolinggo - Jawa Timur - Indonesia

      Wow. I've never thought about them patrol in the social network. It is purely fresh for me. A very useful information, and great thought. Thank you alocsin.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      very good tips, aurelio... might I ask how you know them? ;-)

      very simple and easy. Helpful.

    • alocsin profile image
      Author

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you found these helpful.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      You've provided eye-opening information on how enterprising thieves can be. It's so useful that you've also provided suggestions for defenses against such possibilities.

      Voted up and SHARED.

    • JKenny profile image

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Good article, with some very useful tips, especially those regarding the use of social media and the internet. It serves as a reminder to always be vigilant and wary of who you reveal information to. Voted up.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Great tips here. Next time I go out of town, I'll revisit this hub and follow your advice. Voted up and useful.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      Some wonderful security tips there Alocsin! I would never have thought of the security camera or luggage tags as being a security risk ... very interesting.

      Thanks for SHARING.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 5 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Great hub! Good information everyone should think about before they go on vacation. Thank you for SHARING! :)Voted up and useful.

    • alocsin profile image
      Author

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I hope these ideas will keep your stuff safe.

    • Jakob Barry profile image

      Jakob Barry 5 years ago

      These were great tips. There's so much more to worry about in today's digital/electronic world. It's a good idea to put the address of a friend or family member on luggage instead of your own when no one's home. It's probably just as good an idea to travel very light and only take a carry on :-)

    • hoteltravel profile image

      hoteltravel 5 years ago from Thailand

      These are very useful. Thieves are getting more high-tech and we need to raise our awareness level to avoid getting duped. Voting up and useful.

    • alocsin profile image
      Author

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I'm glad you found this useful. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Pcunix profile image

      Tony Lawrence 5 years ago from SE MA

      Interesting. I work from home, so couldn't use the business address IDE, but fortunately don't travel much any more.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Very useful, and especially the one about the luggage tags, I would never have thought of that! rated up! cheers nell

    • profile image

      zEric7x 5 years ago

      Useful advice. These are things I probably would not of thought of myself. I dont usually go on long trips though.

    • kikalina profile image

      kikalina 5 years ago from Europe

      Very useful hub especially the tip of the address on the luggage! thanks for SHARING