No matter where you live in New Zealand, there’s always a risk of being burgled. It’s generally a myth that burglaries are planned, burglars are largely opportunistic. There are a number of ways for a thief to get into a house, but keeping a few key things in mind could significantly reduce your odds of being targeted and avoid getting burgled.
1. Make your home look lived-in
The most appealing house for a thief is one that looks empty and unoccupied. If they can tell you’re on holiday, you’re more likely to be burgled. Don’t make it obvious that no one is living at home. Leave the house as you normally would if you were going off for a day at work, with everything locked and your curtains open. If you get on well with your neighbour, ask them to help by parking in your driveway and emptying your letterbox.
2. Take down your Christmas decorations on time
The festive season is a ripe time for burglaries, unfortunately. Nothing says “we’re not home” like Christmas decorations and a tree left up until the end of January. Take them down before you go on holiday so it’s not so obvious that you’re not home. Make sure not to leave wrapping paper and gifts lying around in obvious places, either, before and after Christmas day.
3. Set automatic light timers or alarms
A timer that automatically turns lights on at night/early evening is a good deterrent. Even a simple outdoor automatic light works well. Alarms that sense movement are relatively inexpensive, too. Basically, anything that produces light or sound and exposes a burglar’s presence is helpful.
If you are particularly concerned about home security, it might be worth investing in a smart home security system, which can keep you informed of any intruders in or around your home via your smartphone. You can read more about them in our story: How to Keep Safe with the Best in Smart Home Security.
4. Keep your valuables out of sight
It may seem obvious, but it’s something we often forget. Avoid leaving things like laptops, computers and jewellery in clear view through windows. Consider investing in a good quality safe if you’re leaving things behind. You could even lock valuables in a shed or garage, or leave them with a trusted family member/friend if it’s something you’re particularly concerned about.
5. Keep your spare key somewhere unexpected
Don’t go for the classic key under the mat trick. If you need to keep a spare key somewhere, keep it somewhere less obvious and more specific. Burglars know all the usual places, but won’t know all the secret spots you’re familiar with around your home.
6. Keep your power tools secure
If your property includes anything like a shed, or similar external building, make sure that it’s secured to the same degree as your house. Or, better still, don’t keep valuables in them. Keep things like power tools or lawn mowers in your garage, rather than a backyard shed, as the shed will probably be much easier to break into.
7. Have a solid front door
It sounds overly simple, but it’s something you need to consider. Could your door be kicked down easily or busted open? If it’s an old hollow-core door, or relies on a doorknob lock, instead of a deadlock, the answer is probably yes. It’s worth considering whether your door might need an upgrade.
8. Let your neighbours know you’re going away
Tell someone next door you’re heading off and for how long. And ask them to keep an eye on your place if they’re around. Keep in contact with your neighbours over summer and let each other know if you notice anything unusual. If you see or suspect a crime is taking place call 111 immediately. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
I’ve been burgled, what do I do?
Contact the police as soon as possible, and contact your insurance provider. Call as soon as you can after submitting all the necessary information to the police. They will need that information from the police to process and verify your claim.
It’s key to review your home security and make adjustments where necessary. You should always change your locks as soon as possible after a burglary as a precaution, especially if there were no signs of forced entry. Other good ideas if you don’t already have them, as mentioned earlier, are motion sensor lights, burglar alarms and security cameras.
Do you have home contents insurance?
You’ll kick yourself if you are burgled and don’t have contents insurance. Already have cover? Canstar’s latest research reveals only 41% of people regularly review the level of their home and contents cover. And a whopping 83% just renew annually with the same insurer.
Don’t make this common mistake. Save money and get at least three online quotes. Compare home and contents insurance policies between providers, because there can be a significant difference in both price and features.
Play around with excesses, too. With online quoting, you can easily see which excess options make premiums cheaper. Weigh up the differences between higher premiums and lower excesses, and vice versa. You may be able to save on your premium by increasing your excess. If you don’t know what options are available, how will you know whether or not there’s a provider and policy that can work better for you?
Canstar makes it easier for you to quickly check how home and contents insurance providers stack up across a range of categories, including: Value for Money, Process, Speed of Response, Ease of Claim, Quality of Service and Communication. Check out the results of our latest research, below and click on the big red button for more details.