I often get asked questions about crime (which I usually can't answer -- see "What Realty Agents Can't Tell You" entry from April 2007). I did come across this helpful graphic "Anatomy of a Burglary" in today's Washington Post. Pretty interesting stuff. Some good tips on where NOT to keep your valuables. In this season of vacations where homes are left empty for a week or more, it's worth being smart about.
Here are some more tips from Arlington County:
Before you leave...
* Make sure your home looks lived in, not empty: stop mail and cancel all deliveries or ask a friend to make daily collections. Hide empty garbage cans. Leave shades and blinds in normal positions. Put an automatic timer on several lights and the radio. Have a neighbor keep your property maintained.
* Leave a key to a trusted neighbor.
* Store valuables in a safe deposit box.
* Tell a neighbor you trust your departure and return dates. Supply an itinerary with phone numbers where you can be reached in an emergency.
* Ask police to make extra checks at your residence.
* Lock all windows and doors. Double check basement and garage doors before you leave.
On a related note, and relevant to your homeowner's insurance, it's always worth keeping a detailed record of your assets, in case they are stolen. You should include the brand, model, purchase price, and age. Another good idea is to take some quick digital pictures around the house of items that are likely to be stolen in the event of a break-in and email them to yourself for archiving.