Some measures house sitters should take to assure their personal safety.
House sitting is an excellent way to make a few extra dollars and save on the rent at the same time. Well, you may not always save on the rent, but you may save some on utilities and possibly get some extra privacy thrown in the mix.
While many house sitters are just doing a favor for a friend or relative with little or no pay, some are able land lucrative appointments with repeat customers. Most people who hire house sitters do so because their home is in a potential crime area. This can be due to a high crime area or because the house is known to have a significant number of valuables within.
Always take precautions when house sitting.
Criminals watch possible targets for their next hit. They will see the family making preparations to be gone. It might be that the residents were seen carrying suitcases out to leave on a trip. If the crooks miss that you have moved into the residence to house sit, you could be caught in a dangerous situation. Follow some simple rules to keep yourself safe when house sitting.
Make it obvious that you are staying in the house.
Park you car in the driveway when you first arrive. At the very least, this will signal possible burglars that the house is being checked. If the neighborhood is relatively safe, leave your car in the driveway all night. This will disrupt any plans that may have been laid for the first night after the family has left town.
Leave a porch light on for an hour or two after dark and then turn it off.
Most porch lights are not put on timers. This will send another signal that the house is occupied. Make a point of lights on and off as you go from room to room. If possible, leave at least one light on in a part of the house that is difficult to see into. Even if the criminals are considering breaking in anyway, they will not want to risk it with someone in the house that is still awake. Their uncertainty works in your favor.
Have a cell phone with you at all times.
While it is highly unlikely that a burglar will come in after you have established your presence in the home, you do not want to risk that the phones will be disconnected. It is always a good plan to have a way to call for help if needed. Have an agreement with a friend or relative to check in by a certain time every evening. This will make certain that someone is checking on your well-being.
Vary your routine every day.
Those who break into houses like to know what to expect on the inside. They do not want to risk the resident showing up when not expected. By showing up and leaving at a variety of times, you will remove the sense of security from any planned robbery.
Have a friend over to visit or to spend the night several times per week.
If you are young or female or both, a bold criminal may decide that you can be handled or view you as part of the prize. Have someone there often enough to discourage this line of thinking. If that is not possible, get to know the neighbors on either side and across the street well enough to call them if things get out of hand. Someone knocking on the door can be as unsettling as the siren from a police car to thugs. Neighbors can arrive within seconds. The police, at best, will require several minutes.
Install some devices to make several lights in the home motion activated.
These are inexpensive and allow for fixtures inside to be turned on when motion is sensed. Having a television, radio, or even several lights set up in this fashion will send most intruders back out the door. If the home is equipped with anti-theft equipment and burglar alarms, make sure these are activated before retiring for the night.
Have an escape route planned.
Know how you will exit the house in an emergency. Set up a plan of escape as soon as you arrive. You will need one from all parts of the house. This will be helpful whether it is a break in, fire, or some other dangerous situation. You may want to sleep on the main floor of the house if there are more than one story. It is easier to get out if you do not have leap from a window or roof.
by Allen Teal