Go on holiday safely | Stiftung Warentest

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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“Home burglary” – that’s what the police and lawyers call it when apartments and houses are broken into and robbed. In 2023, the number nationwide rose again by 18.1 percent to 77,819 cases. Attempted burglaries also count in the statistics. Nevertheless, the number of burglaries is below the level of 2019, when there were 87,145 cases. The reason for the fluctuations: From 2020 onwards, the corona pandemic led to a significant decrease in burglaries and attempted burglaries. Working from home, the closure of restaurants and travel restrictions meant that many more people stayed within their four walls. Since burglars prefer to attack when no one is at home, they suddenly had far fewer targets than before.

The departure: discreet and quick

“Tourists should make as little noise as possible when leaving. The basic rule is: no emotional farewell scenes when leaving!” explains Carolin Hackemack, managing director of the police initiative. Safe at home. Tourists should always pack their bags indoors so that loading things into the car can be done quickly.

The house should not look uninhabited

A few simple rules of conduct can help prevent break-ins: Do not leave any windows open, all doors to the outside must be completely locked and bolted; this also includes basement, attic and garage entrances. This rule should not only be followed during holidays, but also when leaving the apartment or house for a reasonable period of time.

Since criminals avoid occupied homes, it makes sense to pretend to be there when you are on vacation or away for an extended period of time. Permanently closed shutters and a dry garden signal that no one is home and look inviting.

Tricks and technology can help

Ask your neighbors or friends to take care of your house and apartment, empty the mailbox, water the flowers, and close the blinds from time to time. A neighbor’s car parked in the driveway can also confuse potential burglars.

The use of special technology may also be worthwhile:

  • Time switches that turn lights or blinds on and off help create the illusion of an occupied home.
  • Television simulators that emit a colored glow of light are available for just a few euros.
  • So-called electronic guard dogs are loudspeakers equipped with a motion detector. They work with closed doors and windows. If movement is detected within the range of a radar sensor, the loudspeaker will bark.
  • Motion detectors bathe gardens and deserted corners in light when a person or animal approaches the house.

Surveillance cameras are a deterrent

They have a strong deterrent effect Surveillance camerasThe devices can also help to clarify intrusions later. Their offer is constantly growing. There are high-tech variants that are part of a Smart Home System and are sold as a subscription to a cloud service, as very simple copies. Even a cheap fake camera often deters thieves. If you want to install one, you should also deal with the legal issues in advance. We explain what is important in our Common questions.

Home contents insurers paid out record sums

According to estimates by the German Insurance Association, the value of damage caused by break-ins in 2023 will be 340 million euros. Compared to the previous year, this represents an increase of 70 million. The average loss rose from 3,350 euros to a record high of 3,500 euros.

Tip: Household contents insurance protects against the consequences if front doors are broken into, apartments are vandalized and bicycles are lost. But not all plans offer comprehensive protection for all cases. With our Home contents insurance comparison You can easily determine which tariff is perfect for you, your household contents and the size of your apartment – and it costs little.

Be careful what you reveal

Under no circumstances should you post signs on your front door stating that packages can be left with neighbors for the next two weeks. Out-of-office messages on your answering machine can also be dangerous. It is advisable to simply use your answering machine to say that you cannot answer the phone at the moment. This is usually sufficient.

Only post holiday photos and status updates like “I’m leaving” on social media if the recipients are close friends. Above all, this means: Do not write greetings publicly! For every post you make on Facebook, for example, you will also be informed whether it will be posted “publicly” or to “friends”. Simply click or tap the respective button and determine who can see the text or image.

Out of office reply or not?

Out-of-office notes for your email account can usually be set up for free with email providers: each email is automatically replied to. Senders are told that they are currently unavailable, but will be back at work in two weeks. Whether these out-of-office messages are dangerous depends on whether the email address is private or business.

Self-employed workers should be careful

It is unlikely that criminals would write to every business email address in order to receive such a note. Furthermore, it is usually not easy for criminals to determine the private address of the respective person. For self-employed people who work from home, however, it is advisable to avoid using out-of-office messages and instead check emails from time to time during the holidays.

Special case funerals

Burglary while you are away does not only happen when you are on vacation. Even funerals are sometimes used by criminals to clear out a house. To do this, criminals search the obituaries in newspapers. If there is a date of the funeral and a private address for sending condolences, the thieves will have an easy time. It is therefore recommended that letters of condolence be sent to the funeral home. It is also safe to have friends look after the house during the funeral.

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