Protecting your home these holidays

Co-author: Michelle Norton 

Compared to many countries, New Zealand is still a relatively safe place to live. But, however unlikely it is, it is still possible that your home could get broken into to. Thieves are also often waiting for a prime opportunity, such as homeowners taking trips over the summer break, to try and get away with some goods.

Canstar has rounded up top tips to help you keep your home and possessions safe these Christmas holidays.

Make sure you have an up-to-date list of your possessions

For your home and contents insurance purposes, you’ll need to make sure you have an up-to-date list – and photographs – of your valuable contents in your home. Keep a copy in a safe place, should you ever need to refer back to it in the event of a break-in.

How you can protect your home before you go out

Here are some steps you can take to protect your home, before you head out.

  • Lock all doors.
  • Lock the garage.
  • Shut all windows securely.
  • Put away all tools and ladders.
  • Leave your spare keys with a neighbour instead of “hiding” them in the garden.
  • Don’t put a note on the door saying “Gone to shops, back soon”. This tells burglars that they are free to plunder because you are not at home. (This happens more than you would think.)
  • If you live alone, don’t let people know. Keep your voicemail message plain instead of specific. For example, say:” “No one is available to take your call” instead of “I’m not here right now”.

While you’re at home / overnight

  • Install a wide-angle door viewer so you can see who is at your door.
  • Keep your doors and windows secure and close your curtains at night.
  • Invest in good quality, secure locks. Find a locksmith that comes recommended.
  • Lock the front door if you’re out the back hanging the laundry, or even if you’re just having a nap or concentrating hard on your studies.
  • Lock away tools and ladders that burglars could use to break in.
  • Lock garden sheds and your garage.
  • Install sensor lights if you can. These light up automatically if somebody moves nearby.
  • Keep trees and shrubs trimmed so burglars can’t hide and wait there.
  • Keep your keys somewhere less obvious. Don’t have personal details written on your keyring like your name or address. Don’t leave house keys with your car keys when your car is being serviced.
  • Make sure your valuables like TVs and computers can’t be seen easily from outside your home.
  • When you buy new valuables like Blu-Ray players, don’t leave the packaging lying around near your wheelie bins. Fold it up until it fits in the recycling bin, so no one knows what goodies you’ve got.
  • Hide your passport and official documents to prevent identity theft.

Before you go away

  • Forward your mail and newspaper subscriptions if you can’t get a neighbour to pick them up.
  • Put a lamp on a timer.
  • Leave your curtains open and your blinds up.
  • Turn the telephone ringer sound down, so that no one outside can hear it ringing.
  • Lock all doors; close all windows.
  • Consider engraving your valuables with your name. This makes it harder for burglars to resell them, so they’re less likely to bother taking them.

Befriend your neighbour

  • Befriend a neighbour and tell them when and where you’re going. Leave your holiday phone number with them in case they need to get in touch.
  • Let them know if any tradespeople will be dropping by the house while you’re away, so they know who to expect.
  • Ask them to:
    • Keep an eye on your home and report any suspicious behaviour.
    • Clear your letterbox for you.
    • Close your curtains at night if they have a key.
    • Use your clothesline and driveway occasionally.
  • If you’re going to be away for a good long while, hire someone to mow your lawns once a week. You can leave cash with the neighbour to pay them.
  • Invite a friend or relative to house sit for a few days or your entire stay.

Join a Neighbourhood Support group

Neighbourhood Support helps neighbours talk to each other and work with police and other organisations in your community. These groups are proven to reduce crime, improve safety and prepare homeowners to deal with emergencies and natural disasters.

There are a number of other agencies you can contact for help and advice, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and Age Concern.

Phone the police on 111

If you think a crime is being committed or someone is in serious danger, call Police immediately on 111.

Make sure you have appropriate home and contents insurance

The above steps are very important in terms of taking precautions and being proactive. But, sometimes, no matter how vigilant you are, thieves can still make away with your valuables, or do damage to your home. That’s why it is so important to make sure you have home and contents insurance – and that the cover and provider are the best fit for you. You can compare New Zealanders’ level of satisfaction with home and contents providers by using Canstar’s free comparison tools, just hit the button, below.

Compare home and contents insurance providers

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