This time of year, we all have the treat thing covered. Kids have been busy dreaming up crazy elaborate costume ideas and parents are loading up on candy, candy, and more candy. But don’t forget, this night is as much about the tricksters as it is about the sugar rush, and not every “trick” is innocent and fun.
Unoccupied dwellings, such as homes waiting to be sold or those that have already been sold but the new owners have yet to move in, are perfect targets for vandalism. Someone who wants to cause mischief (or throw a killer Halloween bash) is more likely to victimize a vacant home than one where the family has simply gone out for the evening. They may break windows, punch holes in walls, spray paint graffiti, tear up gardens, etc.
Though the streets are full of parents totting kids in their wake in search of candy and treats, not one of them will cast a second glance at a house that is not lit and unfriendly. We teach our kids to steer clear of houses that don’t at least have a porch light on Halloween – it sends a pretty clear signal that either the folks who live there are not in the Halloween spirit, or they aren’t at home.
You don’t want to get caught with egg on your face this Halloween (unless your costume is a frying pan), so arm yourself with a few tricks of your own to protect your house from becoming a trickster’s target.
Shed Some Light
You wouldn’t leave an empty house to go on vacation without setting your lights on a timer to discourage break-ins, so do the same for your vacant property. Install interior and exterior lights on a timer and put up curtains or blinds to block the windows. If you want to get technological about it, set up a smart security system that will alert you via text when lights go on, off, or someone tries to access the house through various means – door, window, etc.
When a property is standing vacant for an undetermined amount of time (though you expect it to be occupied sooner rather than later), a good rule of thumb is to make it seem lived in. As mentioned above, lights on a timer can help deter would-be troublemakers, but there are lots of little tricks you can try. Mow the lawn, weed the gardens and remove dead plants. Even toss up a few lawn decorations – especially pertinent at this time of year – to give your house a lived-in, festive feel. Just a few pumpkins on the porch can go a long way to making a potential vandal think twice about walking up the path.
Ask Your Neighbours To Look Out
The best protection against bad behaviour is people on the lookout for suspicious activity. On Halloween, it’s a lot harder to keep track of the comings and goings of the neighbourhood, especially when kids young and old are dressed to the nines in costumes and no one knows who is who. Talk to your neighbours (left, right, across the street and behind you) and ask them, if it’s convenient, to keep an eye for any activity in and around the property. If they see something or someone they don’t know or trust, they can give you or the police a call. After all, what are friends for?
Replace Your Locks
Though it should really be standard practice, new homeowners should replace their door locks immediately after they receive the keys, even if they plan on keeping the home unoccupied for a month or two before they move in. There’s no telling who has had access to (poorly hidden) house keys before hand, and who may see this Halloween vacancy as a chance to cause trouble on the scariest night of the year.
If you haven’t already, now is also a good time to look into updating your insurance policy and obtaining a Vacancy Permit. Because of the increased risk of potential damage, insurance policies offer limited coverage for vacant properties, and typically there is no coverage for vandalism, theta, water escape, or glass damage starting from the first day of vacancy. Most insurance companies also require that a vacant dwelling be checked by a family member or relative at least three times a week. Without a Vacancy Permit, even limited insurance becomes void after 30 days.