Heading out? Ensure your Arizona home is secure with these tips

Mar 7, 2024, 3:00 PM

Safe holding valuable items inside....

(Shuttershock Photo)

(Shuttershock Photo)

Are you planning a big vacation during spring break or during the summer heat? Here are some ideas about securing your Arizona house against intruders and preventing other problems while you’re away.

Taking a little care in advance can make you feel more relaxed at the beach or in the mountains. Here are 18 suggestions- some new and some reminders:

1 | Make sure your exterior doors have deadbolts.

Many people worry about burglars when they leave their homes. It is always a good idea to lock the doors and windows when you leave for a long trip or even to go out to dinner. Burglaries are more common in the summer when people leave their homes open or leave for vacation. Historically burglaries are most common in the daytime but, there has been a recent rash of dinnertime burglaries in the valley.

Make sure the main exterior doors all have deadbolts with a one-inch throw. You can also install security screen doors – with deadbolt locks — for extra protection.

2 | Invest in a security system.

If you’ve been thinking of having a security system with alarms in your home, now might be a good time to install one. Be sure to turn it on when you leave. We recommend a monitored security system for maximum protection. Relying on a DIY security system that uses WIFI is only as reliable as your internet. Crafty criminals have learned to jam the internet at prospective homes thereby disabling those systems.

3 | Upgrade to smart technology such as smart locks.

If you expect someone—like a repairman or relative—to visit your house when you’re away or during an emergency, consider installing a smart lock so that you can open the door via smartphone.

4 | Give a friend your key.

Ask a neighbor or a friend to watch the house and leave a key with them for emergencies. Don’t hide keys under doormats or pots near the door. t’s too easy for burglars to figure out. The hide-a-key options at the hardware store that look like a rock are risky as they won’t fool a pro. You can hire someone to stay at your house or visit regularly for extra security.

5 | Have someone move your trash can.

Ask a friend or neighbor to take out your trash can and bring it back in on garbage pickup day to suggest that the house is occupied.

6 | Control your lighting with Smart Switches and apps

Install timers on lights, TVs, or other electronic devices so they go on and off while you’re away. Choose timers that will randomly turn things on and off so the situation looks more realistic.

Or, if you have a smartphone, install smart switches that utilize an app. We like the brand Leviton. It is an easy system to use, and this technology allows you to control the lighting from wherever you may be! Leviton’s motion sensors are also a good deterrent.

7 | Secure your car and garage.

When parking your car at an airport lot for a long time, don’ t leave keys or garage door openers inside the vehicle. Be sure to lock your garage doors securely. To prevent anyone from intentionally or accidentally opening the door electronically, lock them from the wall-mounted garage door opener. You can prevent the door from being manually opened by using the slide lock inside your garage door located a third of the way up.

8 | Put a hold on your mail and the press!

You should stop mail and subscription services and any package delivery made at your door a few days before you leave until you return.

9 | Invest in a safe.

Keep valuables and spare cash in a safe in a non-obvious location in the house. The first-place thieves go is the primary bedroom. If you don’t have a safe, temporarily store valuables in an unusual place, like a kitchen cabinet. Remember where you left them! Snap a photo of the hiding place with your phone.

10 | Be mindful of what you leave out.

Don’t leave spare car keys in obvious places in the house. A burglar might break in, find a car key, and drive off in the car you left at home. Other things to hide away include password books, bank statements, bills, or mail with detailed information.

11 | Ask a neighbor to tidy up for you or maintain regular landscape service.

If you will be gone a month or more, have someone clean up any debris or plant materials that build up around your house. Nothing is more evident that a home is unoccupied than bird’s nests being built around your front door.

12 | Keep things looking natural.

Keep blinds, shutters, and shades in their usual positions. When everything is closed tightly, it’s a sign that nobody will be home for a long time.

13 | Wait to post pictures.

While you’re away, don’t send photos to widely read social media sites. A picture of you in front of Westminster Abbey clearly indicates that your house is empty and vulnerable.

14 | Prep for the heat.

This isn’t a good time to turn off the air conditioner. You want to raise the thermostat, but not higher than the mid-80s. Otherwise, the heat can be tough on your furniture and appliances. Put a water jug or two in your refrigerator so that it runs more efficiently. You might also want to leave a five-gallon bucket of water somewhere in the house to maintain the humidity for the benefit of plumbing p- traps, furniture, and artwork.

15 | Shut off the fan.

Don’t keep ceiling fans running. They don’t cool a room off; they only provide cooling for you when moisture evaporates from your skin.

16 | Monitor your water.

Many homeowners worry about water pipes or water heaters leaking when they’re away. You can buy one of the many smart leak detection devices on the market. Most are battery-powered and sell for $50 or less. These are small sensors you put on the floor or in a cabinet next to pipes or appliances like a water heater or refrigerators. They sound an alarm you can hear if you’re around, but you will want a sensor to alert your smartphone when you’re away so that you can dispatch a plumber.

17 | Have a whole-house shut-off valve installed.

A shut- off valve is an even better option to prevent water damage. Have a whole-house water shut-off valve that you turn off when leaving your home for a long time. A plumber can install one outside the house so that the last thing you do before leaving is shut off the water. The valves can be setup, so they do not stop water to your indoor fire sprinkler system o outdoor irrigation pipes in the yard. If you do this, turn down the water heater and disconnect the water softener.

18 | Notify the right people.

Local police will often keep an eye on your home if they know it is empty. Call to see what is available. Let the security guards in a gated community know that you will be gone.

Join Rosie on the House every Saturday from 8 a.m.-11 a.m. on KTAR News 92.3 FM. If you’d like to send us questions or comments, email Follow us on X and “Like” us on Facebook. For more do-it-yourself tips, go to An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert since 1988, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program. Call 888-767-4348 with questions and comments.

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Heading out? Ensure your Arizona home is secure with these tips