Keep your home safe from Halloween vandalism

Safety on Halloween usually focuses on keeping pint-sized ghosts and goblins out of the streets. Knowing how to keep your home safe from Halloween vandalism is rarely -- if ever -- discussed. A mix of do-it-yourself home improvement projects and out-of-the-box Halloween tips might prevent a return to a homestead that is unrecognizable. While some Halloween pranks are good-natured and should be taken in stride by the homeowner, others are more devious and, in fact, destroy property. For example, does egging someone's house cross the line? If you believe it does, protect your home now -- well in advance of October 31.

Beef up on lighting

You meant to install the attractive light fixture next to the garage door for a couple of months now, but somehow you never actually got around to it. Maybe you have put off replacing two of the three broken light bulbs in your porch light. A fully illuminated house deters Halloween pranks and the vandals who would rely on the cover of darkness for defacing your property. While common courtesy had you keep the home in the dark to deter trick-or-treaters from wasting their time with your home, safety on Halloween dictates that all the lights stay on.

Remedy security breaches

Pet doors as well as the mail slot in your front door are premier means of introducing dog feces, stink bombs and who knows what else into the home. Close up these usually open areas. If necessary, board them up from the inside with cardboard and duct tape. (Make sure the cat is inside before closing off its entryway!)

Adjust light perimeters for maximum coverage

Do you have a motion-activated security light? If not, now is a good time to invest in a system. Go for one that accommodates two 125-watt flood lights. Check the automatic operation setting. Usually these lights stay on for one, five or 10 minutes. Opt for the 10-minute setting. Aim the sensor high to ensure a wide scope of coverage, such as the driveway all the way down to the mailbox. Relax! It's only going to stay this way for Halloween. Pranksters will think twice before smashing a mailbox while caught in a blinding floodlight.

Install motion detector sprinklers

Suburbia loves these sprinklers, because they enable gardening mavens to make quick work of neighborhood felines using their flower beds as litter boxes. These devices also work well when dealing with the potential of Halloween vandalism, such as egging someone's house, or the much more benign Halloween pranks (like toilet papering a large front yard tree).

These sprinklers usually rely on infra-red technology and offer a spray range of about 35 feet. Battery-powered, there is no need for getting out the home's wiring diagram. Strategically place the sprinklers around likely targets for the toilet paper treatment and be on the lookout for suspiciously wet youngsters in your neighborhood. (Once again, make sure the pet cat is inside your house; dealing with a wet feline can be more challenging than cleaning up a toilet paper-laden weeping willow.)

Hand out decent candy (and lots of it)

Halloween traditions dictate that disgruntled trick-or-treaters may play a trick on you, should you resort to handing out stale nuts, healthy "nutrition bars" or anything else that is not tasty. While the prior suggestions cover advice to keep your home safe while away for trick-or-treating yourself, this little nugget protects the homestead from having a trick played on you while at home.

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