It’s about that time of year when us Canadians choose to escape the dreadful cold of the north and make our way south for a little vitamin D. Whether you’re planning on going away for a week or a month it’s important to protect your Toronto home by taking a few precautions to ensure your empty home doesn’t attract would-be intruders.


1. Don’t boast about your travel plans online


We know it’s hard to resist sharing your vacation on social media, but try to wait until you’re back in Toronto to do so. While I’m sure you don’t keep burglars in your inner circle, you just never know who may be keeping an eye on your social accounts. You can never be too safe.


2. Leave your curtains and blinds as you normally would


While you may be inclined to shut your blinds while out of town, if you typically keep your blinds open throughout the day, leave them that way. You don’t want to make any noticeable changes that could suggest your absence.


3. Unplug electronics


While you’re away it’s worth unplugging electronics that won’t be used like your television, microwave, toaster, and the like. These small appliances, even while not being used, generate phantom power which can really add up on your hydro bill post-vacation. Unplugging those appliances while away could equate to a few extra pool-side cocktails.

Read “How to Live Green in Your Toronto Home” for more tips about conserving energy

4. Put your lights on a timer


One of the easiest ways to trick people into thinking you’re home is to ensure your lights aren’t always off. Especially during these winter months when Toronto gets dark as early as 4pm, putting a timer on your lights or on your power bars gives the impression that people are home and will keep burglars away.


5. Remove your spare key


We all have a spare house key hidden somewhere, just in case. Let’s be honest, most of us don’t have any ingenious hiding space because we know we’ll just forget where we’ve put it to begin with.


Burglars know the easiest way to gain access to a home is to do a quick search for the spare key — under the welcome mat, over the door, inside the mailbox. If you’re leaving town, give the spare to a friend, don’t risk it being found by a foe.

6. Ask a friend to keep an eye on things


Take your spare key and give it to a friend, relative, or neighbour whom you trust. In exchange for a nice dinner or bottle of wine ask them to do these three things while you’re away:


i. Depending on how long you’re away for, have them drop by on occasion and to ensure no pipes have burst in the cold of winter. Be sure to show them where the main water shut off is just in case.


ii. Have them take in your mail. Alternatively, you can arrange to have Canada Post put a hold on your mail while you’re away.


iii. After they’ve taken in your mail and checked on your pipes, ask them to pull your garbage bins to the curb. Nothing says you’re out of town more than being the one house on the block after the holidays with no garbage to put out.


7. Hire a kid from the neighbourhood to shovel your driveway


If you’ve already asked too much of your neighbour or friend, hire a neighbour’s kid to shovel your driveway if it snows while you’re away. This will help keep up appearances and protect your Toronto home from becoming a potential target.


8. Invest in a home security system


In the age of smart technology, there are many home security systems today that allow you to keep an eye on your home while on vacation. As a Toronto resident, you are already likely to be a customer of Bell or Rogers, both of whom have their own respective smart home monitoring systems.


If you really want to trick suspicions eyes that you’re home, take one out of the Home Alone playbook and set up an extravagant scene before leaving Toronto for 30 degree weather!