How to keep your home secure this holiday season

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You’re more likely to be robbed in summer than any other season, but there are things you can do to prevent becoming another statistic.

National crime statistics show that since the year 2000 the number of break and enters in Australia has declined by 64%.

Despite this, thousands of homes are still being broken in to every year – often in plain view, during the day – and summer remains the most likely time for burglars to strike.

The reason for this is two-fold. First, as temperatures begin to rise we tend to open up our homes to let the fresh air – and burglars – in.

In fact, according to ADT Security, more than one in 10 burglaries (11%) are through an unlocked window, 18% through a back door, and 17% through the front door.

The second reason that summer sees a peak in break-ins is that houses are less likely to be occupied during the holiday season.

So what are offenders looking for when they target a home?

The most common items stolen are (in order) cash, laptops, jewellery, cameras, mobile phones, wallets/handbags, ID documents (especially credit cards), TVs, computer or video games, watches, video/DVD players, power tools and stereo/audio equipment.

Thankfully there are several things you can do to keep these items – and your home – safe, not only during summer but all year round. Here are our top tips:

Keep your home secure this holiday season 1. Think like a burgler

Take a walk around your property through the eyes a thief. Do all the locks work? Are there good places to hide for burglars should they be disturbed? Is your spare key hidden in an obvious place? When you know your property’s weak spots, you can look at ways of reinforcing them. Don’t forget to check the garage, shed and laundry doors and windows; you might find a lock you didn’t even know was broken.

2. Invest in security systems and alarms

A study of police detainees by DUMA (Drug Use Monitoring in Australia) found that the best deterrent for would-be burglars is a noisy dog on the property, with 61.4% saying this would deter them from attempting a break-in. But if you don’t have a dog, don’t fear: a functioning alarm system would deter one in two offenders (49.1%), while sensor lights would stop more than one in five (22.8%) burglars in their tracks.

3. Maintain your home while on holidays

A home that appears vacant is more attractive to burglars, but there are several things you can do to make your home appear lived in. First, make sure your garden is maintained: an unkempt yard is an obvious indication that a house may be empty. Secondly, hide your valuables – including packaging from Christmas gifts – so as not to advertise the items you have that are worth stealing. Thirdly, ask a trusted friend or family member to keep an eye on your property while you’re away and collect your mail.

4. Upgrade Your Home’s Lighting

Motion-activated or timer lighting can make your house look more ‘lived-in’, whether you’re at home or not. A well-lit house is far less attractive to a criminal than a dark one. This tip is an oldie but a goodie when it comes to security technology and an affordable addition to help deter intruders.

5. Check your insurance

Should your home be broken in to the last thing you want to worry about is whether your insurance is adequate. Home and contents insurance will normally cover you for home theft or attempted theft. However, make sure you read the Product Disclosure Statement to know what you are covered for and what terms, conditions and limitations apply to your policy. After Christmas, be sure to review your home and content insurance to make sure any new gifts are added to your policy. Finally, be sure to take photographs of valuable items such as jewellery, watches and electronic devices, which will help should you need to make a claim.