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Security when at home and on vacation

LIHU‘E — A vacation is ideally the time when a person can leave their worries at home. But it is important to think about home security even while traveling.

A new episode of the Lifetime true-crime show “Progging: Hider in My House,” detailed a September 2019 incident in which James and Brittany Campbell returned from a vacation to find their Honolulu residence in shambles and were greeted by an unwanted guest, Ezequiel Zayas.

The couple was horrified to learn that not only had their residence been inhabited by the stranger during their week-long vacation, but the man had drafted plans on their computer to turn them into “perfect people.”

The invader had set out knives as if in preparation to perform “surgery” on the couple. He was arrested and later charged with burglary and put on supervised release.

There are many ways individuals can protect their home while on vacation.

One resident, William Brand, said he keeps the TV on, and recommends having a dog to help guard the home. Wife Mary Brand pointed out, “It’s good to get to know and talk to your neighbors.”

She says in her neighborhood people look out for each other in the case of suspicious activity, “They will catch someone walking around and quickly call the police.”

Ete Mose shared, “We have dogs, so they help protect and warn us when there are people in the neighborhood.” He adds that it’s important to “be alert, teach your kids to be aware of their surroundings.”

“We have cameras, lighting, and we always lock up and double-check everything is locked and put away,” said Selwyn Rita from ‘Ele‘ele. “We put things away in storage instead of leaving it outside.”

He added, “I think our neighborhood is a good neighborhood. We also have family that lives nearby and keeps an eye out.”

To do our part to increase safety on the island, he says, “We have to be proactive and continue to help out local law enforcement.”

Eric Voll of Hanama‘ulu said that he feels relatively safe in his community and that the neighbors watch out for each other in his neighborhood. Voll did add that he thinks it would be helpful if police increased patrols on island.

Rocelia Cesario of Hanama‘ulu said that she would like there to be more street lights to help increase visibility for the purpose of safety on island.

According to security website Safewise’s fourth annual State of Safety report, Hawai‘i’s violent-crime rate is 2.5 incidents per 1,000 people — lower than last year’s rate and the national rate of 4.0. Hawai‘i is among 15 states that saw a decrease in violent crime year over year.

However, the property-crime rate in Hawai‘i continues to be higher than both national and regional rates. Statewide rates dropped, however, between 2021 and 2022, with property-crime rates falling 17% from 28.7 incidents per 1,000 to 24.1. Yet despite the decrease, four more property-crime incidents per capita occur in Hawai‘i than the nationwide average.

There are many ways to increase security around your home, which can be even more important while on vacation.

According to State Farm Insurance, July and August are the months when home burglaries peak, which happens to also be a popular time for going on vacation. The company recommends numerous ways to keep your home safe while on vacation, such as: setting timers on interior lights, avoiding social status updates or broadcasting your trip on social media, alerting your alarm company, remotely monitoring your home on your phone, securing your valuables in a safe-deposit box, and checking to make sure all your doors and windows are locked. To protect the outside of your home when on vacation, make sure to keep landscaping trim to prevent climbing burglars from entering the yard. It is also recommended to stop mail and news deliveries because it cues in burglars that you’re not home. Another helpful tip is to make use of exterior lighting, to avoid leaving spare keys outside, and to make sure to lock your garage. ADT home security systems recommends adding a security alarm system and surveillance inside and outside the home for additional security. It is also important to make sure to not have valuable items visible through windows. Outside the home make sure to have adequate lighting, and to have expensive outdoor items such as BBQ grills, bicycles, and machines stored away and locked up.

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Monique Kemper is a lifelong North Shore resident who lives in Lihu‘e and writes periodically for The Garden Island.
Source: The Garden Island

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