9 Ways to Protect your Home
The highest average number of insurance claims occurs on Halloween.
Trick or treating can be a fun time for both children and adults. Many adults have competitions to see who has the best home decorations while children compete on who comes home with the most booty and spoils of war.
With the devils and demons haunting the streets, the spike in burglaries, theft, vandalism and other property crimes are daunting. Studies have found that insurance claims inside the home are roughly 60% higher during the Halloween festivities, while insurance claims related to vandalism, car theft, and theft away from home also see a significant increase.
Pranksters and Punksters will be out on the street looking for an easy target or trying to extract revenge on property owners who forgot to leave out enough Twinkees. Before you shell out the dough to have Macaulay Culkin booby-trap your home, here are 10 “tricks” to exorcise the streets and protect your biggest investment on Halloween.
1. Leave a bowl of candy and instructions at the door.
Nobody puts baby in the corner; and nobody deprives Sloth of his Baby Ruth. It’s Halloween, and in some neighborhoods, there may be HUNDREDS of children stalking the streets looking for their sugar rush. Armed with pitchforks, battle axes, and the occasional fairy wand, these youngsters want one thing and they want it now.
A bowl of candy shows you are a participant in the festivities, and you are willing to play along. Respectful children accompanied by respectful adults will help abide by the written rule you leave in your stead (unless you leave a bowl of Whatchamacallits…then I’m taking the whole bowl!) Mix up the candy for your trick-or-treaters!
2. Keep your property well lit
A well-lit property serves two purposes. The lighting shows the trick-or-treaters you are participating in the festivities and guides them along the path. Guided lighting can funnel traffic directly to the front door of your home. At the very least, I strongly recommend a sidewalk/ pathway/ walkway lighting to be implemented along the path intended for trick-or-treaters to walk. The second reason is covered in #7.
3. Cujo needs to stay inside
The additional traffic, door ringing, and screams outside your house may very well put your four-legged friends into a frenzy. Much of this noise and additional stress can be avoided by stationing someone at the door. This tactic allows someone to greet trick-or-treaters outside the house and leaves your pet inside. Not only will this reduce your pet’s stress level but will also protect children from your pet in the event your pet goes into protection mode. Another reason to do this is mentioned in tip #9.
4. "They’re here!”
You can turn the security up a notch by installing a timer for your interior lights (this will make it look like someone is walking from room to room inside the house.) Program your timer so that an adequate amount of time passes before the lights are turned off/on or it may appear as if there is a Poltergeist visiting your home. "Can I put my security on steroids" you ask? Attach a cutout of your favorite basketball player to your Rumba…no one will be breaking in with a silhouette of Shaq casually strolling through your house.
5. Truck or Treat
If you can, put the car in the garage. I don’t have any puns past the title. Trick or treaters will be more likely to leave your vehicle alone if it is part of the decoration. If you don’t have a shelter for your vehicle, dress it up as part of the scenery and have it in a well-lit area.
6. Don't get tripped up
With great traffic comes great risks. Fall clean-up is a several step process for each of the properties I’ve called home. It’s a good idea to time one of these steps in the days leading up to Halloween. Tree branches and leaves are a recipe for a twisted ankle, and a trip down your front doorstep could send a visitor to the doctor’s office or the emergency room. Fall risk is risk, protect your home and investment against additional insurance claims by completing a clean and thorough sweep of the property before the big night.
Set clear expectations with your tenants that fall cleanup should occur prior to Halloween, and at the very minimum the walkways for trick-or-treaters should be cleared.
7. Shine a light on me
Having a shadowy yard grants malicious characters permission to wreak havoc on your property. A well-lit yard is a message to vandals that you are watching. Even if you aren’t at home and the tricksters know this to be true, they will think twice before causing damage to your property if they believe a neighbor or passer-by could be observing their mischievous deeds. If you have tenants at your property, make sure they are aware that the yard should be well-lit whether they will be home.
8. Do you remember the ending of Carrie?
“I will need 72 candles to light my jack-o-lanterns this year” may be a thought of you or your tenant unless a conversation is had regarding policy with fire, candles, and open flames. If you or your tenants are planning on using a plethora of lighting for Halloween, make sure to review artificial light sources rather than open flame or you might see your home engulfed in flames on the evening news.
9. The 'Wet Bandits' might be staking out your home.
Eluded to in tip #3, keeping a regular watch at the front door serves multiple purposes. Your valuables will be out of sight and out of mind. Keeping a keen eye on your front door minimizes the exposure your valuables will receive in the public eye. To some chaperones accompanying youngsters, Halloween is like walking down Pawn Shop lane, and they are looking for the next shop to make their next heist. Being stationed outside with friends and family shows you are not in business. But make sure you have that space heater cranked up for the frigid Minnesota evenings.
Whether you plan on staying at home for All-Hallow’s Eve, or leave your home unattended, it is good to have a plan. You will either need to stock up on candy and stay engaged with your visitors, or keep your house on lock-down and play the Poltergeist game. Whichever way you choose on playing it, we recommend sharing these tips with your friends, tenants, hell - even the neighbors you don’t necessarily like! This day IS the day of the year with the highest average insurance claims, and we hope we helped you avoid a property management nightmare!
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