We have held enough estate sales to know how important security issues are to both our staff, the home we’re having the sale in, and the items for sale.
What I’d like to do is give you some lesser-known guidelines to make sure your estate sale is as secure as reasonably possible. Most people already know about the “numbers” system for entry into the sale, but there are several lesser-known guidelines which are equally important in making your sale as secure as possible.
And if you are hiring a professional liquidator to handle your estate, make sure that they are using these guidelines as well.
1. Be careful how early you advertise the sale.
Letting people know early about your sale is a great way to get a better turn-out. But just remember that for every day you have the address to the estate out there for people to see, that’s another day for potential thieves to find out about your otherwise unoccupied home.
Hint: If you are advertising on-line, see if the site you’re using lets you hide the address until a day or two before the sale. This way, you can still get high exposure without letting people know where the house is.
If you can’t hide the address (like with craigslist), post a new listing every day or so but just mention the city. As you get closer to the actual sale days, post a final listing a day or two before the sale with the full address.
2. Check the windows.
Sometimes you need to open the house up to air it out, or maybe it just gets too hot. But before you leave the house after setting it up for your sale, be sure to check all the windows and make sure they’re closed and locked.
But who thinks about checking the windows during the sale? All a would-be thief has to do is unlock an upstairs or basement window to get easy entry into the home after the sale’s over for the day. So be sure to check the windows before closing up the home at the end of the sale day, too!
3. And check those closed-off areas, too!
You know all those bathrooms, closets and room areas you taped off and hung “Do Not Enter” signs on? Those are perfect areas for someone to sneak into and hide in until the sale is over. You leave, they come out. Then it’s just a matter of time before the entire house is cleaned out and you come back to an empty, ransacked and possibly damaged home the next morning.
So take 5 minutes and check all those areas to make sure nobody’s hiding there. And don’t do it alone.
4. Have lots of coins, guns or jewelry for sale? Take it home…and tell everyone you’re doing it!
If you have tables displaying high-dollar items or firearms, it’s always a good idea to remove these from the home at the end of each sale day. But it’s an even better idea to do this and be sure to prominently display a sign stating “All coins, jewelry and firearms are removed from the premises every night”. Post these signs throughout the home and on the front door. Thieves will be less likely to break into the home after the sale if the valuables have all been removed.
5. Cover those windows.
During the sale, you’ll want to let in as much natural light as possible. But during off-sale hours, uncovered windows are an invitation for thieves to see what’s left. So cover those windows up when you’re not there.
6. Empty that cash box often.
Estate sales are usually cash-heavy events, with buyers often carrying wads of $20, $50 and $100 bills with them. And it won’t take long to quickly get $500 or more in your cash box.
So it’s always a good idea to have your cashier empty out the cash drawer of large bills and just leave your starting bank in it as much as possible. It doesn’t take much to grab a cash box and dive into the back of a waiting car. Losing your starting bank of $200 isn’t anywhere near as bad as losing thousands of irreplacable dollars.
So whether you are holding the sale yourself, or have hired a professional liquidator to run your sale, these hints will hopefully help you reduce theft and damage to both your home and the items you are selling.