A happy Halloween for you and your home

It's that time of year again. A time for ghosts, goblins, jack-o-lanterns, haunted houses...and vandalism. Yes, vandalism. For many communities, unfortunately, Halloween is more of a time for tricks on home and property than for treats.

As a property owner you can take steps to help keep your home safe from mischievous pranksters. The following tips are for keeping your home and property safe from vandals on Halloween.

Before the "bewitching hour" approaches, cut your lawn and trim your hedges, particularly those that may obscure your view of the property from inside the house. A well cared for home will discourage would-be vandals; an ill kept home is an invitation to trouble.

Keep your yard and porch free of such items as lawn mowers, hoses, outdoor furniture, barbecue grills and others items that might be tempting to vandals. Removing these items from the path of trick-or-treaters also ensures that youngsters will not be hurt by tripping over an object they didn't see in the dark or because they were wearing a costume mask. Also, put your garbage cans away or out of sight.

Park your car in a garage, if possible. If not, make sure that the car is locked and parked in a well-lighted area. Do not leave packages or other valuables on the seats in plain sight of passersby. Also lock tool sheds and other outdoor storage facilities.

Illuminate your property with whatever outdoor lighting you have – porch or patio lights, garage lights and lawn lights. Leave lights on inside your home as well. Ask your neighbors to do the same for their property. Pranksters cruising an area in a car are more likely to avoid a neighborhood that is well-lit. Check city street lights several weeks before Halloween and report any lights that need replacing.

Plan to be home on Halloween, if possible. If you must be away, ask a friend to housesit. If you are planning to offer treats to costumed children, use common sense when opening your door. Do not invite trick-or-treaters into your home unless you recognize them as neighborhood children.

Support community-sponsored approved trick-or-treat times during daylight or dusk hours and ask concerned adults in the area to accompany children on their treks. The presence of responsible adults will minimize harmful pranks.

Determine if there are Halloween parties planned for neighborhood youth by area churches, schools or civic groups. Volunteer to help promote and supervise these programs. A well-planned and fun activity will leave less time for random vandalism.

Finally, if you don't have a neighborhood watch program in place, now is an ideal time to organize one. Contact your local police department for information.

If in the unfortunate event your home is vandalized, report it immediately to the police. Unreported crime, quite simply, eliminates any chance of the vandals being caught and retribution being made.

By following these suggestions, you will decrease the risk of vandalism to your home and property, thereby keeping your neighborhood safe for trick-or-treaters. The Eastern Connecticut Association of REALTORS® would like to wish you, and your home, a safe and happy Halloween!



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