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Protecting the Home While You're Away

Jul 19, 2021|

When COVID-19 first hit our borders, nobody knew how the pandemic was going to play out. Having been through countless lockdowns for over a year now, people are eager to regain a sense of normalcy. With positive cases on the decline in the U.S., many have started planning (or at the very least thinking) about their next big trip.

Now that we're starting to vacation again, we'll be locking up our homes for an extended period for the first time in a while. To that end, we surveyed 1,000 U.S. citizens about their home safety habits, especially in relation to them planning their next getaway. Unfortunately, respondents have developed some bad home security habits during the pandemic. Since being burglarized can prove very costly, it's a good idea to learn from their mistakes. Read on to learn more about what to do (and what not to do) to help ensure your home is safe this summer.

security app with home in background

Let's Get Out of Here

After being cooped up for so long, many Americans are looking forward to a much-needed getaway in the next few months. Sixty-five percent of our respondents had plans to leave home for a summer vacation, with people living in urban neighborhoods more likely than those in suburban and rural areas to report as much. More homeowners were planning a trip than renters, and millennials were the generation most excited about summer travel.

summer travel plans infographic

For 3 out of 5 respondents, this vacation will be the first time they have left their home for an extended period since the beginning of the pandemic, and nearly 90% had some anxiety about venturing off this summer. While the cost of travel was the leading reason for this anxiety, 42% were worried about their home security. A recent survey suggested that 26% of people didn't lock their doors when they were at home, even though additional findings had shown that most burglaries happen when someone is around. If they were to go on vacation, locking everything up is a must. According to the FBI's 2019 Crime Report, the average cost of a burglary was $2,661. Meanwhile, a report from the same year suggested that Americans spent $1,979 on their summer vacations. Clearly, people worrying about the safety of their homes while they are away is warranted, especially those with tight budgets and people leaving valuables behind. Inevitably, victims of a previous home crime (48%) were more likely to be anxious about home security while on vacation than non-victims (38%).

People living in urban areas were the most anxious overall, being most likely to worry about their home security while away, getting COVID-19, and possible travel delays. Renters reported more anxiety than homeowners, worrying more about the cost of travel, getting COVID, and being away from work.

Staying Safe

For respondents to have some peace of mind while away from their home, the most common (and obvious) action to take was locking all doors and windows before leaving. In addition, 42% of them asked a neighbor to keep an eye on things in case any suspicious activity occurred, and 37% left a light on in an effort to trick potential thieves into thinking people were home. While this is all great, only around 30% of U.S. households have home security systems. Given their proven effectiveness, investing in one is always a good idea. Generally, homeowners were more likely to take home safety precautions when traveling than renters were.

home safety practices infographic

The top three most effective ways to protect the home were agreed to be locking doors and windows, installing smart technology or a home monitoring system, and asking a neighbor to check up on their property. When thinking about the next trip they'd take, over half of respondents said they felt very comfortable regarding the safety of their home when they left. That being said, close to a fifth of them were tired of having to thief-proof their homes before heading off on a trip, and over half believed it took the fun out of traveling altogether. In fact, they would pay someone, on average, $90 a day to keep their home safe instead of just securing it themselves.

This summer, in particular, a quarter of respondents were worried about the safety of their homes if they were to go on vacation. Respondents said they were extremely strict about home security now (22%), compared to before the pandemic (13%). One way to improve your safety status is to update your locks since older locks are more likely to be damaged and therefore easier to pick. Also, reinforcing windows with additional locks or bars can help take your burglar-proofing to the next level.

(Potentially) Costly Mistakes

Just over two-thirds of respondents said that their dedication to home protection has been about the same regardless of the pandemic, but 30% had increased their alertness. Individuals working in-person jobs were more protective than those working remotely.

bad security habits infographic

Nevertheless, nearly 40% of Americans admitted to not doing their proper due diligence when it came to protecting their homes before heading off on vacation, and 1 out of 6 Americans had zero concern for the well-being of their home when away. According to preliminary FBI projections, there were approximately 1,030,516 burglaries in the United States in 2020, taking the necessary steps to protect your home is probably worth it.

On top of some people's lackadaisical approach to ensuring the safety of their homes while away, others have also formed poor general home security habits throughout the pandemic. For example, many left their windows, doors, and garages unlocked while they were at home, and homeowners in rural areas were most likely to do so. Shockingly, even when they were out of the house, over a quarter of respondents left their windows and doors unlocked. Some also posted their locations and/or travel plans on social media, which can prove costly if someone with bad intentions knows when you're abroad.

Go Have Fun, We've Got Your Back

As Americans plan on leaving their homes this summer, it'll mark the first time in a long time that many are leaving for an extended period of time. Naturally, people are anxious about going on their trips, primarily due to the cost of travel, but also due to concerns about the security of their home while they are away. The most common safety procedures people take are locking doors and windows and/or asking a neighbor to keep an eye on things, but many people have developed bad habits during the pandemic that leave their homes more exposed than they need to be.

For example, seeing as many people have been working remotely, leaving doors, windows, and garages open has become commonplace among some respondents. When people are ready to leave on a trip, though, they will need to properly protect their homes to fend off pesky thieves. Many think taking the time to secure their home takes the fun out of their vacation, but the advanced security systems offered by Vivint are effective and easy to use. The Vivint system allows you to take control of your home security no matter where you are. And instead of relying on someone else to come over and check on your home, you can do it yourself with the Vivint app which allows you to easily monitor the interior and exterior of your home all from your phone.

Let’s be neighbors.

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Methodology and Limitations

We surveyed 1,000 people about their home security habits heading into the summer via Amazon's Mechanical Turk. Among the respondents, 53% were men, and 47% were women. Respondents' ages ranged from 24 to 64 years old with an average age of 39.

For short, open-ended questions, outliers were removed. To help ensure that all respondents took our survey seriously, they were required to identify and correctly answer an attention-check question.

These data rely on self-reporting by the respondents and are only exploratory. Issues with self-reported responses include, but aren't limited to, exaggeration, selective memory, telescoping, attribution, and bias. All values are based on estimation.

Fair Use Statement

If you know someone who's gearing up for their next big trip, feel free to share this article with them. We just ask that you do so for noncommercial use only and to please provide a link back to the original page so contributors can earn credit for their work.

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