Unfortunately, most of us know someone who has gone away on a holiday, only to return home to discover their property has been broken into and burgled. Being the victim of a robbery can be an expensive and heart-breaking ordeal that can leave you feeling vulnerable or unsafe in your own home. Fortunately, there are simple measures that you can take to ensure that your home isn’t targeted by a thief next time you go away on holiday.
Home invasion statistics between 2018-2019 showed that approximately 2.4% of Australian homes were the victim of a break-in, totalling 231,000 cases nation-wide. If you’re heading away on a holiday, it’s important to make sure that your home is safe and secure from a break-in while you’re gone. We’ve compiled a list of tips and advice to help you protect your home from thieves so that you can relax next time you go on holiday in the knowledge that your home won’t be burgled in your absence.
- Don’t indicate online that you’re going on holiday
Put off posting your holiday pictures on social media until you return home and consider keeping your personal or work email auto reply vague, rather than revealing the exact dates that you’ll be gone.
- Consider installing a security door to protect your home
The best way to protect your property against thieves is to make your property a more difficult target. Studies have shown that in at least 30% of burglary incidents, the intruder enters through the front door, so a quality security door is an effective deterrent to thieves as well as a physical impediment to prevent forced entry. When purchasing a security door, be careful to choose a product that has been manufactured and installed in compliance with Australian Standards guidelines. Visit a reliable provider and speak to an expert to discover which security doors will be best suited to your property and needs.
- Don’t keep your spare keys under the doormat
Although it might be convenient, don’t keep your spare keys under the doormat or near your front door. Your hiding spot probably isn’t as clever as you think it is! Horrifyingly, a 2019 study found that more than 20% of households hid their spare key under the doormat. Thieves know to look under your mat for spare keys so it’s a hiding place that will leave your home vulnerable, and worse, if a thief has access to a key you may find you have voided your insurance policy if you are the victim of a robbery.
- Check everything is locked
It’s easy to forget this step but it’s absolutely crucial if you’re going on holiday. Check that all windows and doors, including the garage door are locked. The most sophisticated security doors and windows will not be effective if they aren’t locked! Close most blinds, curtains or shutters to prevent prowlers being able to see into your home for easily grabbable valuables.
- Check the batteries are working in all home security devices
This is another simple precaution that often gets overlooked. If you have any devices such as lighting, smart doorbells or surveillance cameras, check they are charged and functioning. Always opt for high-quality batteries rather than unreliable cheap ones that may stop working just when you need them.
- Unplug nonessential electronic devices
This precaution will reduce your risk of fire as well as saving electrical costs. Unplug, or switch off at the powerpoint, items such as televisions, computers, toasters, kettles and lamps. The standby power used by plugged-in electronics is estimated to account for 5–10% of residential energy use. Unplugging items also protects them against electrical surges, which can cause fires.
- Install outdoor lights
This is an easy and cost-effective way of deterring thieves. When targeting a property, burglars look for access points that are concealed from view. If your entranceway or front garden is illuminated this will deter thieves. For enhanced security, consider a motion-activated or sensor lighting system.
- Check your front yard looks maintained
Like installing lighting around your entranceway, a well-maintained front yard helps to deter thieves because they don’t want to risk exposure when breaking into a property. If your bushes and shrubs are overgrown this will allow an intruder to approach your home without being seen.
It’s also worth taking steps to ensure that your garden looks lived in and well cared for, with grass mowed, plants pruned, mail collected and, if possible, a car parked in your driveway. If there are visual clues that you’re away on holiday rather than at home, burglars will be more inclined to target your property.
- Consider smart security features
If your budget allows, consider adding smart security features to your home such as a smart door lock, alarm system, surveillance camera or smart doorbell. Check that you know how to use these features and that they are charged and functioning as they are meant to. Home security features will deter a thief from targeting your property just from their visual appearance and, while most won’t actually be able to physically stop a thief, they may be able to provide police with useful evidence.
- Ensure your valuables are out of sight
Most burglaries are opportunistic in nature, so don’t make it easy for a thief by leaving valuables in easy view. Close curtains, blinds or shutters when you’re not at home to prevent passers-by being able to see into your home. If you’re going away on holiday, ensure devices such as computers, iPads or game consoles, as well as jewellery and cash haven’t been left out where they can be easily seen.
- Ask a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your home while you’re away
Neighbours can be a great home security resource because it is easy for them to keep an eye on your property and also share information if there have been robberies in your area. If you’re going on holiday, ask a trusted friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your home and help your property to look occupied by collecting mail, or putting your bins out, or mowing your front lawn. Another useful action to take is to ask a friend or neighbour to park in your driveway to make it look like someone is going and coming from your property.
- Have a home security checklist
It can be a rush packing and getting ready to leave on a holiday, so it’s important to have a holiday home security checklist and to check your whole household knows what needs to be done to ensure your home and possessions are safe while you’re away. Having a checklist will allow you to put your mind at ease and really relax on your holiday!