Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Keeping your home safe while you are away

By Dave Helgeson
We all take steps to keep ourselves and our RV safe while on the road. But how many take extra steps to deter burglars from our homes while on the road?

Pages have been written here and elsewhere about staying safe from crime while RVing.  However, little has been written about how to deter burglars from burglarizing your home in your absence while RVing. Full-timers no longer have to worry about a sticks-and-bricks house, but what about the rest of us? Personally, my home has been burglarized twice over the past 40 years while my wife and I have been traveling. After the last burglary, I studied up and doubled down on the steps I take to deter burglars from my home. So far, so good.

Here is what I learned and the steps I take to deter burglars:

Monitor the premises

Having a set of eyes or more on your home lets potential burglars know it is being watched.

  • Let trusted neighbors know you will be departing on an RV trip and to keep an eye on your place. You might also ask them to pick up any papers lying in your driveway along with removing any door hangers placed by solicitors. By making your home look lived in you will deter burglars from targeting your house.
  • Make use of the Vacation Home Watch service if offered by local law enforcement. Seeing a marked law enforcement vehicle randomly stopping at your home from time to time is a sure way to deter burglars.
Vacation Home Watch Flyer
Make use of vacation house check programs
  • Install cameras inside and outside of your home that you can monitor via your smartphone while you are away. Be sure and look up the non-911 number for the law enforcement agency in your hometown. Add it to the contact list in your cell phone. If you ever do spot someone burglarizing your home via a camera while enjoying a distant point in your RV, calling 911 isn’t going to be very effective. That’s because it will connect to law enforcement in the vicinity of your campsite, not your hometown.
  • Having a housesitter is the ultimate set of eyes to have on your home, if you have a trusted friend or relative that is available to do so.

Make some noise

Crime experts agree that noise is one of the best ways to deter burglars as they don’t want to draw attention to themselves.

  • Install audio annunciators around the exterior of your home. The audible tone will tell would-be burglars that their presence on your property has been detected. They have no idea what the annunciators are connected to. Therefore, they have no idea if it has alerted the police, a neighbor, etc.
  • Install vibration alarms on your windows and doors. These devices will deter burglars by emitting a loud, shrill siren when someone bangs on a window or door.
  • Use a Wireless Motion-Sensing Control Transmitter with an Outlet Receiver to activate source noise. When motion is detected by the sensing control outside your home it will activate the outlet receiver turning on a radio or other 120V device of your choosing in your home. The sudden and unexpected noise will deter burglars as they will question if someone is home.

Varying light sources to deter burglars

Lights can be used to indicate your home is occupied and expose burglars to others.

 Set lights on timers to mimic your normal home routine.

  • Use a fake TV to simulate the flickering light of the real thing as it bounces off walls in the house or is seen through window shades. Would-be burglars will think the home is occupied and move on to a different target.
  • Install real or fake security cameras with indicator lights on the exterior of your home to deter burglars. Knowing/thinking the house is monitored will likely send would-be burglars to an easier payday.

    Security Camera
    Deter burglars with the use of security cameras
  • As suggested for noise, above, use a Wireless Motion-Sensing Control Transmitter with an Outlet Receiver to activate an interior light source. When motion is detected by the sensing control outside your home, it will activate the outlet receiver, turning on a lamp or other 120V light source of your choosing in your home. While burglars might expect an exterior motion detector that activates an exterior flood lamp, seeing an unexpected light source come on within the home, as if the resident turned it on, will likely change their plans. Roaming neighborhood cats will also randomly trip the sensor, keeping anyone watching the house guessing if the occupants are home or not.
  • Install motion lights that will illuminate exterior doors and other vulnerable parts of your home when motion is detected. Being suddenly lit up and exposed to the neighbors will deter burglars from proceeding.

Don’t advertise

Criminals are opportunists. Don’t make their job easier by announcing you are not home.

  • Don’t share your real-time location on social media while away from home in your RV. While it’s tempting to post pictures of your awesome campsite and the beautiful scenery you are enjoying, it could let a burglar know you are not currently at home and not likely to return soon. With all the information on the internet, it only takes a few clicks for a criminal to determine where you live. Even if you have a housesitter, why invite trouble? Save posting pictures until you return home. Friends and family will enjoy them just as much then.
Deter burglars by not sharing on social media
Don’t share that you are not at home
  • Loose lips sink ships! Only tell people you trust that you are leaving on a trip and do so in private. Who knows who else is listening to your conversation while you are standing in line at the grocery store, getting your hair done, etc.?
  • Question if you should suspend services. When you suspend a service like garbage collection, you are not only telling those in your neighborhood that you aren’t home, but also the person responding to your request at the garbage service office, the garbage truck driver, internet hackers and whoever else they care to share the information with.

Reinforce points of entrance

Burglars like homes that they can easily gain access to. Deter burglars by reinforcing entry points with tried-and-true methods.

  • Bar doors and windows to make it more difficult for a burglar to gain access to your home.
Barred door
Bar entry doors from the outside to deter burglars from kicking them in
  • Install deep throw deadbolts and reinforced strike plates on all entry doors to make your doors harder to force open.

Deter burglars by implementing some or all of these items. The peace of mind knowing that your home is secure will allow you to fully enjoy your RV and destination.



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Neal Davis (@guest_261130)
14 days ago

Thank you, Dave! We do some of these already, but you told me of things — vacation house check, annunciators, and fake tv appliances, in particular — I never knew existed; thank you! As to the security cameras, I found some that are relatively inexpensive ($32/each at Amazon) but were highly rated (still?) by a company called Wyze. I bought several stationary ones through Amazon (https://a.co/d/5xkNnYm) and added the spotlight option to them. I mounted them on the eaves of the house (had to add power outlets). They are indoor/outdoor, but well-protected from weather. Five years later and they are going strong. 🙂

Last edited 14 days ago by Neal Davis
L C (@guest_261117)
14 days ago

Our biggest problem is squatters!! We have had them move into houses when owner was gone for a couple days, change utilities and mail. Once they do that it’s a eviction, and costs hundreds of dollars to evict them. This is in Cottonwood, CA near Redding.

Ed Thompson (@guest_261103)
14 days ago

Great suggestions. Here are a few more:

ensure your yard is maintained by reliable lawn service. Include picking up limbs, yard signs and trash. If gone for lengthy period, have hedges trimmed and plant beds weeded. have neighbor or reliable person do a home walk through and walk around every couple weeks to check for signs of entry and any issues with house. Have them send photos as needed, hold or forward mail, and have person who does walk through check to ensure mailbox is empty. Provide your contact information to neighbors who you let know of your travel plans and have their contact info in case you need their assistance. Have neighbor park their vehicle in your driveway

Last edited 14 days ago by Ed Thompson
WilBB (@guest_261171)
14 days ago
Reply to  Ed Thompson

USPS will only hold for 30 days. Cannot forward when moving every 10 days.
Still searching for solution.

Neal Davis (@guest_261177)
14 days ago
Reply to  WilBB

We found a way around the USPS formally only holding mail for 30 days when we went to Alaska, WilBB. I extended our mail hold order a day or so before it was set to expire, extending it 30 days beyond whatever day I managed to get on the internet. The major difficulty was getting to the internet from Alaska or Canada. I hope this trick still works next summer, the one beyond it, or whenever we manage to travel to Alaska next. Safe travels!

Jim Johnson (@guest_261061)
14 days ago

20 years ago I installed my 1st motion detection camera to reduce petty vandalism by a small group of teens. It worked. Today as we seasonally migrate. I watch the house from the detached garage and vice versa. Our biggest robbery deterrent is snow cover. Tracks can be traced. We remotely monitor temp via our thermostat and as backup a camera watching a digital thermometer. It is a small town with delightfully nosy neighbors who watch each others’ homes for suspicious activity. And nearby relatives have house keys – and training on how to start our emergency generator.

Allen S (@guest_261052)
14 days ago

We live in Canada and still leave our door unlocked everyday. We still post everyday on our trip. But we also have great neighbours that will check on our house if we are gone.

Bob M (@guest_261035)
14 days ago

Also if it’s winter below freezing. Buy a thermostat light switch to hook to a lamp. Put a red bulb in the lamp so your neighbors can see if it lights up. Tell your neighbors if it lights up to call you because the furnace quit working. My neighbor’s furnace quit working during the freezing winter. His pipes busted, flooding the house and freezing. Took about eight months to redo the house.

Anne Oelke (@guest_261150)
14 days ago
Reply to  Bob M

Get a wifi enabled thermostat. It will email you if the temp. falls below a certain point. You can check
the temp remotely, and turn the temp up 12-24 hours before returning home. No more icy sheets the first night home.

Tommy Molnar (@guest_261026)
14 days ago

We left Reno for a trip to Houston. A ‘routine’ medical checkup. WE WERE THERE FOR A SOLID YEAR! Our neighbors are great folks. Our entire neighborhood is “locked and loaded” as the saying goes. Our across-the-street and behind-us neighbors are terrific people who collected our mail, moved my wife’s car, and had some kids shovel the snow. It worked out well, but I’d never want to do that again.

Gary Broughton (@guest_261012)
14 days ago

We have neighbor park his truck in our drive, tell the neighbors when we’ll be gone.
Don’t get on fb and tell everyone that you’ll be gone for three weeks leaving your home empty.

Tom (@guest_261007)
15 days ago

External video cameras are your friends.
We have roll down Hurricane shutters on all windows and doors. The garage door has doubled strength bars to keep it strong.
Make your house the difficult one and they will go somewhere else.

Last edited 15 days ago by Tom
Richard Hughes (@guest_261001)
15 days ago

Signs announce cameras at our house and our dog announces her presence.. When we are gone a recording of her bark is set off by the motion sensors around the house and our phones sound an alert, letting us know to check the cameras. We also know if our neighbor has picked up the mail.

Seann Fox (@guest_260994)
15 days ago

Don’t just use timers for your lights make sure you get random timers. Mine are set to come on at 6ish and go off at 10ish.

Bob (@guest_261025)
14 days ago
Reply to  Seann Fox

We use multiple timers on lights set at random times. One in each room and even the basement. One in the bathroom will come on during the day and once or twice in the middle of the night. Two outside motion floodlights, one on the garage and one on the dark side of the house and motion sensing lights at each door.

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