Having your home broken into can be traumatic and expensive and it’s a widespread crime in Australia. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures show that during 2013/14, 228,900 homes (2.6% of all households) experienced at least one break in.
The Australian Institute of Criminology also reports that burglary in Australia is estimated to be higher than the international average and that 36% of Australians believed that it was likely their house would be burgled in the forthcoming year. So how can you make sure it doesn’t happen to you?
A great deal of property theft is opportunistic – thieves taking advantage of the fact your home is easily entered or obviously empty. So here are 7 practical steps you can take to make it harder to be broken into.
1. Secure your home
It sounds obvious, but make sure your home is secured when you go out or go to bed. Always lock windows and doors. Fitting keyed locks to all your windows and double-keyed deadlocks on doors means thieves can only leave the same way they got in, making it harder for them to steal big items like TV’s and music systems.
Installing bolts on sliding doors and getting a good quality lockable screen adds a further barrier of protection. Even if you are at home in the day be aware that it only takes seconds for someone to walk in and take something, while you are in another part of the property.
True story: Kate’s laptop was taken from her inner city’s home study, while she popped to the kitchen to make a cup of tea.
“I had metal bars on the window, which faced the main street, so I thought it was safe, but the thief put their hand through the bars and just lifted the laptop through the space – I couldn’t believe it could happen so quickly. The police explained to me that thieves are always looking for an opportunity.”
2. Don’t leave keys outside
While most of us know not to leave a key outside, we often still do! Thieves know all the hiding spots - under the mat, on a window ledge, under plant pots, in the letterbox or meter box – so don’t take the risk, even just as a one off.
If you want to have a spare key available in case of emergencies leave a key with a neighbour or friend. It’s also a good idea not to give out keys to workmen or tradespeople. Keys are easily copied.
Fast Fact: Data from the ABS - In 10% of Australian break-ins in 2013/14 the burglar was confronted by the householder and the property was damaged in almost half (48%) of incidents.
3. Install an alarm
Security alarms are proven to be the most effective way to deter thieves, and the most effective alarms are ones that can be seen from the street. Buy one from a reputable company. Burglars can easily get past cheap or dummy ones.
4. Lock back and side gates
Back and side entrances allow out of sight access to your home making it a dream run for thieves to break and enter away prying eyes so make sure they are locked too.
True story: At 2.30am on a warm summer night, Colin woke to a man climbing in through his ground level bedroom window, which opened onto a narrow lane way up the side of his semi. “I was gobsmacked. When I challenged him he said he had thought it was his house! After that I had window locks installed.”
5. Lock garden sheds and garages
Sheds are full of tools and things that thieves can use to break into your home so make sure you lock them as well as doors between the house and garage. Don’t leave valuables like bikes, kayaks, and lawnmowers outside even while you’re at home – thieves will take them too.
6. Install movement-activated sensor lights
Trim trees and plants that are close to windows and doors as they provide cover for thieves. Sensor lights will help to deter thieves.
7. Don’t advertise that you’re away
Being away makes your property more vulnerable to theft. Try and keep your home looking as lived in as possible. Get a neighbour to collect mail so that it’s not obvious you are away. Be careful not to advertise on Facebook or other social media that you leaving on a trip. Same goes for advertising expensive items on sites like Gumtree.
Prevention is key in securing your property against theft, but it’s also good to be prepared if the worst does happen. Keep a list of valuable items so you can easily identify what’s been stolen and back up computer files on a hard drive and keep it secure.
Finally make sure your home contents insurance policy is up to date and that it covers you for everything you would like to be replaced if it got stolen or damaged.
- Visit the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) website for 2013/14 figures on Break-in and attempted break-in.
- Download Burglary: prevalence in Australia and overseas - 2008, The Australian Institute of Criminology.
Disclaimer: To see if NRMA Home Contents Insurance is right for you, always read the Product Disclosure Statement from the product issuer, Insurance Australia Limited trading as NRMA Insurance.