What will you come home to?

The Northland Age - - Local News -

Sum­mer is hol­i­day time for many peo­ple, but while it is com­mon prac­tice to make lists of ev­ery­thing that will be needed, an­other check­list, one that will make your prop­erty se­cure while you’re away, is equally im­por­tant.

Noth­ing ad­ver­tises an owner’s ab­sence more than pulled blinds, an over­flow­ing let­ter­box and a house shrouded in dark­ness at night, all of which can be avoided with a lit­tle fore­thought.

The check­list that fol­lows in­cludes ad­vice from the po­lice, who are es­pe­cially keen that peo­ple do their best to se­cure their homes while they are away, sim­ply by mak­ing sure they look lived in.

■ Tell your neigh­bours when you will be away, where you will be go­ing, and give them a con­tact num­ber. Ask them to keep an eye on your prop­erty and re­port any sus­pi­cious be­hav­iour.

■ Can­cel news­pa­per sub­scrip­tions, and ask the neigh­bours to clear your let­ter­box, or con­tact NZ Post to have your mail held while you are away. Junk mail can be a prob­lem — you may like to con­sider adding a sticker to the let­ter­box to pre­vent un­so­licited mail.

■ Don’t leave your house in the dark at night. Put a lamp on a timer so it looks as though some­one is home. This is where smart home tech­nol­ogy comes into its own — mod­ern sys­tems let you pre-pro­gramme lights to switch on and off, and even con­trol blinds and gar­den ir­ri­ga­tion. You can do all this re­motely if re­quired.

■ It is rec­om­mended that you leave the cur­tains open and the blinds pulled up.

■ Turn down the ringer on your phone. If no one is an­swer­ing a ring­ing phone it’s a sure sign there’s no­body at home.

■ It goes with­out say­ing that all win­dows, in­clud­ing small, high ones, should be closed, and doors locked. Make sure garages and gar­den sheds are also locked. Lad­ders and tools that could be used to break into the house need to be se­curely stored, out of sight and reach. Leave a spare key with a neigh­bour, not hid­den un­der a stone where it will

"The po­lice also rec­om­mend that you iden­tify and mark your valu­ables, and take pho­to­graphs of por­ta­ble items that are more likely to be picked up by an in­truder. "

likely be found by any­one who cares to look.

■ Never leave notes on the door. These may draw un­wanted at­ten­tion from the street.

■ The po­lice sug­gest you re­sist the urge to post pic­tures of your hol­i­day on so­cial me­dia un­til af­ter you are home. There have been in­stances of homes be­ing bur­gled fol­low­ing such posts.

■ If you have been cul­ti­vat­ing a kitchen gar­den that needs reg­u­lar wa­ter­ing, ar­range to have some­one give it a good soak ev­ery sec­ond day. Pot plants will also need to be wa­tered.

■ If you don’t al­ready have a house alarm, con­sider get­ting one. It will prob­a­bly re­duce your home con­tents in­sur­ance pre­mium, and will help to de­ter bur­glars. But the po­lice say an alarm is only a back-up for good locks — it will de­tect an in­truder, but won’t al­ways keep them out. If you are con­sid­er­ing an alarm, ask friends or col­leagues to rec­om­mend a re­li­able com­pany. Make sure to ask to see a cur­rent se­cu­rity tech­ni­cian or se­cu­rity con­sul­tant li­cence or cer­tifi­cate of ap­proval. Don’t be pres­sured into buy­ing some­thing in a rush, or let a com­pany hard sell you an alarm sys­tem.

■ The po­lice also rec­om­mend that you iden­tify and mark your valu­ables, and take pho­to­graphs of por­ta­ble items that are more likely to be picked up by an in­truder. Neigh­bour­hood Sup­port can give you stick­ers to no­tify po­ten­tial in­trud­ers that your prop­erty is marked. These do work as a de­ter­rent.

■ Sen­sor-ac­ti­vated out­door se­cu­rity lights are good de­ter­rents.

■ Wire­less CCTV cam­eras are an­other way to de­ter would-be crim­i­nals.

■ Keep trees and shrubs trimmed, es­pe­cially when they are close to the house.

With a lit­tle care and at­ten­tion, you should be able to re­lax on hol­i­day, with no nasty sur­prises await­ing you on your re­turn.

Out­door light­ing is at­trac­tive, and a real de­ter­rent for would-be in­trud­ers.

Noth­ing says ‘Bur­gle me!’ quite as ef­fec­tively as an un­emp­tied let­ter­box.

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