Iowa law enforcement agencies often see an uptick in home burglary cases this time of year. Many of the break-ins could be avoided with some common sense home security measures.

Iowa Department of Public Safety spokesperson Jessica Lown suggests placing a hold on mail and newspaper deliveries. “Or just ask somebody who’s going to be in town, someone you trust, and give them your key to stop by and bring your mail in or shovel your drive,” Lown said. “They can do those things that would indicate that someone is still at the house.”

Thieves can also be thwarted by the use of lamps plugged into automatic timers. “So, it looks like someone in your house is flipping the lights on and off a few times, even though you’re not home,” Lown said. It’s also a good idea to close curtains or drapes, so a burglar can’t see inside the home.

Another no-no is posting vacation plans to Facebook. “Not everything is kept within your circle of friends on these social media sites,” Lown said. “So, doing a status update that says, ‘woo-hoo, on my way to Hawaii for Christmas and no one will be checking my home for two weeks’…maybe not such a good idea.”

Lown says it’s also a bad idea to post your vacation location on Facebook. “Would-be thieves…they see somebody check into a location, and then they check into your home,” Lown said. Many police departments, particularly in small towns, allow residents to sign up for home checks. Officers will walk around the home to check for signs of a burglary or anything suspicious.