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Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start to the camping season, is already past us.

It’s an exciting time for families to get their camper or travel trailer all set to go out for the weekend and enjoy the summer season. Now if the weather would just cooperate.

Sitting around a campfire and visiting with friends and family brings lifelong memories that we will cherish forever. Unfortunately, there are times that excitement is quickly dashed as soon as you make it back home.

Imagine this scenario:

You and your family load up the RV, tow it to your favorite camping destination and spend three days there. The last thing usually on everyone’s mind while camping is: “Is my house safe?”

You arrive home and immediately you notice household items on the floor, dressers tipped over in bedrooms, and clothing strewn throughout the house.

Your kitchen is also a mess. All the cabinets are open, and drawers are emptied out all over the floor.

You then realize your home has been burglarized. You start the process of itemizing all the items that appear to be missing.

This will disrupt your life for a while as you go through your house with law enforcement to determine all that is now gone.

I get asked over and over from homeowners on how to not be a victim of burglary.

This is a complex question that can take awhile to explain, but you must think like a burglar and ask yourself:

If I was going to break into my house, what am I looking for? Are there large shrubs blocking views of my windows? Is my back door more secluded or seen by my neighbors? Are all my interior lights off when I’m gone for the entire weekend? Do my closest neighbors know that I’m gone and the only cars in our driveway are the ones we own?

To avoid this nightmare please consider some easy and practical steps when you are planning on leaving for your trip:

• Alert your neighbors that you will be gone, and no one should be at your house that entire time.

• Let them know the only cars that should be in your driveway are the ones that are normally there.

• If there are lights left on, let you neighbor know which ones.

Remember that burglars do watch neighborhoods and could realize you are gone on a trip if your RV is not on the side of your house as it normally is.

Plan on making your house occupied while you are gone.

Have timer lights on inside and outside your home. Have all expected package deliveries delivered only when you are back from your trip.

Consider having a Neighborhood Watch program where you live. This puts neighbors on the same page and they can report all suspicious activities to law enforcement while you are gone.

Neighbors watching out for each other really works.

Also, some campers have trusted house sitters while they are gone. If you go that route, be sure to alert your neighbors of that.

Please enjoy your summer outings and make those times be your lasting memory. Just keep a few of these tips in mind to avoid being a victim of burglary.

— Chad Clark is undersheriff of the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office. Contact him by email at scsocommunity@co.skagit.wa.

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