THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - Vacations are supposed to be stress-free, but when you hear that most home burglaries occur every 15 seconds, the security of your home and valuables weighs heavy on your mind.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the average financial loss from home burglaries in 2011 was over $2,000.
Security experts insist on taking extra precaution to avoid becoming a victim. Vice President of Georgia-Florida Burglar Alarm Jeff Mims said most of his customers seek security advice after the fact.
“To show up and find out somebody has taken something from you, or has done damage to your property, is just a really bad feeling. You feel violated,” Mims said.
And as the weather gets warmer, many people begin to plan vacations, or simply spend longer periods of time away from their homes.
Lieutenant Maurice Holmes with the Thomasville Police Department said it's a prime time for burglars to break in. "That's why it's imperative that you take the precautions to protect yourself from the start. Make yourself a harder target for these criminals."
There are many useful tactics and technologies that can keep you safe.
Security experts suggest motion-detected lighting to be one of the most effective and cheapest techniques.
You can purchase motion-detected lighting at any one of your local home improvement stores. Most lighting ranges in price from $20 to $100, based on durability and range of coverage area.
Lt. Holmes said, "Have them around your front door or on your front porch near the front end of your home. Also, have them on the rear of your home. So if somebody walks up, the light will come on and that's going to make them run off."
A well-kept lawn could also save you the heartbreak of returning home to find someone's robbed your house clean.
Police said burglars often camp out in wooded areas around homes before and after breaking in.
"What they do is they use these woods to seclude themselves in to where they're not able to be seen by anyone. And that's day or night," said Lt. Holmes.
Installing a burglar alarm for your home may be one of the most obvious forms of protecting it, but it doesn't stop there.
Experts said more homeowners are purchasing surveillance cameras to keep a close eye on their land.
When installing a security camera system, homeowners must make sure they are able to get a good look at anyone suspicious in or around your property.
Many security companies offer the technology to give you piece of mind anytime, anywhere.
For example, homeowners can link their security camera systems to their mobile devices, allowing them to see what's going on while they're away.
If you're thinking of a cheaper way to secure your home, law enforcement agencies suggested installing deer cameras, which have proven extremely helpful in tracking down criminals.
Security experts also suggested putting a hold on your mail or newspaper delivery service if you plan to be away for several days.
This prevents stacks of paper piling up on your driveway or front porch.
"It may alert a criminal that maybe no one is staying there or maybe they've been gone a while," said Lt. Holmes.
Notifying your neighbors and local law enforcement agencies that you'll be away can also make sure you're place stays secure.
Almost all law enforcement agencies in South Georgia offer a free extra-patrol service to residents.
"All it takes is the person to call into the police department and say, 'Hey, I'm going out of town for two weeks and need extra patrol on my house,'" said Lt. Holmes.
Officers then patrol your home a few times a day to make sure everything is in place.
Security experts urge people to use caution when sharing vacation plans on social media.
Lt. Holmes estimated 80-90% of individuals arrested for home burglaries were familiar with the victims.
Therefore, when sharing details or photos of a vacation with "friends" on social media can often times set people up for disaster.
Following these guidelines can protect more than just your valuables; it can save you from the constant fear and vulnerability most victims of home burglaries often experience.