How to keep your home safe from burglars over the
We all learned from Home Alone that burglars like to case “joints” left empty during the holidays, prompting little Kevin McCallister to design ingenious homemade booby traps out of feathers, paint cans and Christmas ornaments.
However, new research finds many Australians aren’t so prepared.
A survey of 1000 Australians found that one in 10 admit to leaving their windows and doors unlocked when they go away. Even more people leave their blinds and curtains wide open, with technology and other valuables visible.
“As a nation, our homes are our pride and joy, yet our optimistic nature means we don’t like to think anything could happen while we’re away for the holidays,” says Donna Walker, chief technical officer of Allianz Australia. “Unfortunately, Australians aren’t immune to the risks that come with owning or renting property.”
But they should be a little more cautious. According to 2016 figures from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, property offences – such as shoplifting, mugging and theft from homes – spike on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
The holidays are attractive to burglars because houses are left empty, people are distracted, and there are expensive gifts lying around. The warm weather means we are also more likely to open windows and doors and forget to close them.
Security cameras installed at home can provide that second pair of eyes over the holidays.
“Thieves will literally steal presents off the backseats of cars and from underneath Christmas trees,” he says.
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There are a few simple steps, however, that Australians can take to protect their property.
Lock all windows and doors with good quality locks, Greaney says, especially side and rear doors that are the most common entry points for burglars.
People leaving their homes empty for the Christmas period should also make sure their home looks occupied at all times.
“Ask a neighbour to bring in your mail and bins if you’re away for a while, and organise to have your lawns mowed,” Greaney says.
Valuable items, such as car keys, wallets and cash, should be removed from plain sight.
Bess Nolan-Cook, RACV’s home program manager, says people should also be wary of leaving cars where thieves can see them.
“If you don’t have access to a carport or garage, parking your car with friends or family is a good alternative,” she says. “If you do need to leave your car parked on the street, we recommend removing valuables or anything with your personal information from the car.”
Home owners can also opt for home security technology, such as alarm systems, to monitor their house while they are away. Alarm systems can be used to deter intruders, and some come with 24/7 monitoring services that connect to emergency services when needed.
Today’s increasingly high-tech home security systems can make your home look like it’s occupied.
“Whether it’s turning lights on and off, automating blinds or turning on your television – a lot of these functions can now be controlled remotely via a smartphone to give you an element of control of your home while you’re away,” says Nolan-Cook.
“If home security is a more serious concern, you can use smart security cameras or a more robust alarm or CCTV system, which allows you to keep an eye on what’s going on at home while you’re away.”
Social media posts during the summer holidays can also expose your family to the risk of theft. You may want your followers to know that you’re at the beach, but a criminal could use that information to their advantage.
“Even the most security-conscious person can accidentally make their absence obvious on social media through posts, photos and check-ins,” says Nolan-Cook. “If you’re heading away for the holidays, update the privacy settings on your social media accounts to ensure your holiday details are only visible to friends.”