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This article from the Scambusters Newsletter #595, 05-07-14 contained some good tips that are worth sharing.... 

Luring You Away

Thieves use many tricks to lure you away from your home.  Here are just a few:

* Claiming to be a utility employee or contractor who wants to show you an area outside where he's about to start work.

* Posing as a neighbor or passerby who just spotted a problem on your roof or the exterior of the building that they want to point out to you.

* Pretending to be the owner of a lost pet, who asks you to come and help them search nearby for it.

Crooks may disconnect power lines, send out phony invitations to events or even advertise opportunities on social media or online classified ad sites (such as events or jobs) that will get you away from home.  

Obviously, you should be on your guard for these ruses and avoid leaving the home unguarded if at all possible.  If you do have to leave the house, even for a few minutes, lock all doors, close all windows and, if it's dark, switch on some lights.

Checking if Anyone's Home

Of course, even if a crook lures you away from your home, he or she can't be sure someone else isn't inside.  If they're just scoping out potential burglary targets, they want to know if a house is occupied or if the owners are out or away.  So, it's important not to give the game away by leaving signs your home is unoccupied.  Here are some ways you can conceal your absence and avoid alerting crooks:

* Don't leave address details in your car, especially if it's in a long-term parking lot.  This applies not just to documents but even to a GPS, if you have one. Don't enter your home address on it.

* When you're going to be out for a short while, leave or switch the radio on, preferably on a talk station.

* Keep your garage door closed and garage windows covered so burglars can't check for vehicles.

* Beware of solicitors -- at your door or on the phone -- wanting to fix a future appointment, especially if they ask when you're going to be at home.

* Don't leave voicemail messages that say you're away, or when you'll be back. Messages should be neutral, simply asking callers: "Please leave a message after the beep."

Going Away?

If you're going on vacation or will be away for more than a few days:

* Don't discuss travel plans on social networking sites.

* Arrange for your lawn to be mowed and front yard to be kept generally tidy if you're going to be away more than a week.

* If you live in a snowy area, get a neighbor to drive on and off your driveway when there's snow on the ground, so tracks are visible to a would-be burglar.

* Ask a neighbor to clear any litter they see around your home. Crooks have been known to drop trash on driveways and doorsteps and then check to see if it's been cleared.

* Finally, as we warned in another issue, beware of publishing home address details in funeral or memorial service notices. They signal when you'll be out.


Erie County Courthouse - 140 West Sixth Street, Erie, PA 16501 - (814) 451-6000 - TDD Phone: (814) 451-6237 - Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 4:30pm
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