Los Angeles, California - Halloween can be spooky, with more tricks than treats for homeowners. Mercury Insurance experts want to help policyholders keep themselves, their families and their belongings safe on the days surrounding All Hallows’ Eve.

“Halloween vandals can take your house from haunted to downright scary,” said Christopher O’Rourke, Mercury Insurance’s vice president of property claims. “The good news is that having the right kind of insurance in place can help protect you from costly pranks.”

O’Rourke offers the following 10 tips to help keep homeowners from falling victim to a Halloween trick:

  1. Declutter your yard. Remove outdoor items, like tools and children’s toys, from your walkway and put them away in a secure place. It prevents possible theft as well as potential injuries.
  2. Visibility is key. Try on your child’s mask before they go out on the big night. It will give you perspective on what they can and can’t see and will allow you to better view your own walkway.
  3. Leave a light on. Turn your porch and sidewalk lights on so trick-or-treaters can see their way to your door with no problem. Even a clear walkway is hard to navigate in the dark.
  4. Stay “in” for the night. In addition to porch lights, leave house lights on so trick-or-treaters – and possible vandals – believe you are home, even if you aren’t. Vandals are less likely to do their dirty work out in the open.
  5. Keep your pets inside. Some dogs and cats can become easily spooked by strangers or kids disguised in costumes. Pets that become agitated by the doorbell or unexpected guests should be kept in a part of the house away from the front door.
  6. Park it away. Put your car in the garage for the night, if you have the room to do it. This gives potential vandals one less target.
  7. Get smart (tech). Smart home technology is a great way to monitor and secure your property on a night well known for unexpected visitors looking to cause a little mischief. Smart home lights and cameras connected to a mobile device give you finger-tap control of your home’s surroundings, including making it look like you are home while you’re out at a Halloween celebration.
  8. Take down the jump-scares. Avoid pop-up scares at your door or on your lawn. They may be fun, but the short-term response is overshadowed by the potential for harm to visitors.
  9. Create a game plan. Talk to your neighbors and come up with a schedule to watch your block. Assign watch times and map out potential trouble spots. Invite local law enforcement to your meeting to get additional advice prior to the big night.
  10. Stay covered. Don’t forget to review your homeowners insurance policy. Halloween is a busy holiday period with a lot of activity in neighborhoods, so it’s not out of the ordinary to hear reports of ‘pumpkined’ cars or egg-damaged homes. The good news is that the right kind of insurance can help you with many of these costly pranks – talk to your insurance agent before Halloween to review your current coverage.