The Christmas break is here, and if that means packing up and heading off for a few hours, days or weeks, it might be good to know your home is safe and secure while you’re away.
School holidays, particularly over summer when many families go away for the Christmas/New Year period, are often the busiest season for home burglars.
The good news is that, according to official* figures, only 2.4% of Australian households were burgled in 2019-2020, while a further 1.9% reported an attempted break-in.
While statistics might be against the possibility of having your home burgled, however, it is still important to do all you can to ensure it is secure at all times.
Typically, burglars are more likely to gain access through a window, although they will happily walk through a door that has been left unlocked. Windows are more vulnerable than doors – they’re hard to lock and easy to remove, and are often shielded from view by a fence or shrubbery.
Here’s a 5-step plan to make your home secure this summer.
1. Lock up before you leave
This probably seems obvious, yet it’s surprisingly easy to overlook in the rush. Check all doors and windows carefully, not forgetting the garage and garden shed as they not only house valuable belongings but also present thieves with tools they can use to break into your home.
2. Invest in quality locks
Good quality door and window locks are an essential starting point. You might also consider fitting wire mesh security screen doors to allow the summer breezes to flow through.
If you have the windows open, make sure they’re lockable when ajar; and don’t leave the keys in them!
3. Keep up appearances
Burglars prefer to break into empty homes, so it’s important that your place doesn’t look like you’re absent.
Make arrangements to stop delivery of the mail and newspapers, and if you’re going to be away for long, have someone come in to mow the lawn. Organise for a neighbour to collect any junk mail and put the bins out on collection night – they might even appreciate having the extra space for their own rubbish, and it will look more authentic.
4. Install sensor lights
Sensor lights mounted on external walls are a powerful deterrent. They are activated when something moves across their path, so any would-be intruder is likely to think twice about being caught in the spotlight.
Apart from covering the front and back doors, consider mounting lights over other vulnerable entry points such as a side path.
5. Put in an alarm system
Alarms have evolved considerably over the years. Automated systems not only provide surveillance, but enable you to remotely control lights, air conditioning and appliances, open or lock doors and even give someone access to your home through your mobile phone.
Having control from a distance means your home appears ‘lived-in’ when you’re not there. You can set certain lights to turn on at 7pm then off again at 10pm, as if you were at home. The typical break-in is opportunistic, so having the lights come on when you’re not there adds another level of security.
Likewise, if you forget to arm the system when you go to work or on holidays, you can use your smartphone or tablet to communicate with your home and arm it remotely.
Security alarms have been proven to be effective deterrents and are widely available for self-installation, or if you prefer, a range of alarm systems can be installed by professionals, who will also provide monitoring and maintenance.
*Australian Bureau of Statistics, Crime Victimisation, Australia 2019-20