It's summertime, and the pickings are easy — for burglars. • Security and insurance experts say burglaries tend to increase during July and August, when most people go on vacation. • The burglars know the signs that say a family isn't at home: a porch light left on all day, newspapers piling up in the driveway. And there are things burglars look for that may not be so obvious. • Leaving the blinds closed is a double-edged sword, said security consultant Chris McGoey, who also runs the security-education Web site crimedoctors.com. A potential burglar can't see your valuables, but closed blinds and curtains are also a sign that no one is home. • There are a number of things you can do to protect your house or apartment while you are away. Scripps Howard News Service Ask a neighbor. They can watch your home and make it look occupied. Have them park a car in your driveway, raise window shades occasionally, put out garbage cans on schedule, McGoey said in an e-mail interview.
Remote control. Put lights on timers so they'll turn on and off throughout the evening. If the lights all go on at 7 p.m. and all shut off at 11 p.m., it's a giveaway they're on a timer. Stagger the on and off times. Plug a radio into a timer also.
Stop it. Put your newspaper on hold and have the post office hold your mail or arrange for a neighbor to pick it up every day. A jammed mailbox shouts, "They're away!"
Move it. Move electronic equipment away from the windows so it won't be easily visible. (You might want to unplug everything too, so it doesn't get zapped by lightning in your absence.)
Keep it tidy. Arrange for lawn service if you'll be gone more than a week. Ask a neighbor to pick up advertising fliers, trash and tree branches from your lawn. A big palm frond lying across the driveway for a week is another big giveaway that you're not home.
Lockdown. Be sure all door and window locks are working properly. Rose Rougeau, a spokeswoman for AAA Texas, suggested investing in slide-lock protection for sliding glass doors, which are a frequent entry point for burglars.
Your garage door probably has a security bar to lock it from inside so it can't be opened with a clicker from outside. Make sure it's in place when you leave. Lock the door between the garage and the house.
Times Homes and Garden Editor Judy Stark contributed to this report.