What will you come home to?
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.