How to secure your home while you’re away
FROM toothbrushes to favourite teddy bears, there's a lot to remember when you're heading off on holiday, but something that should never be overlooked is home security. Holidays are a prime time for break-ins but taking some sensible steps before you go away can help minimise the risk. ADT Security head of sales Darryn Bull says homeowners should be proactive with home security.
"A simple check can go a long way towards minimising any potential incidents that may occur," he says. "Thieves are often very opportunistic and they'll look for easy targets."
Darryn says some homeowners don't lock their doors and windows properly, leaving them vulnerable.
"It is really good to start with the basics and lock up when you leave," he says. "Also, ensure your side gates and access around the side or the back are closed off."
Darryn says one of the best things you can do before going away is a security audit to identify any weak points.
"The first step is to do a walk-through inside your home and outside and look for any security loopholes," he says. "Think like a thief to identify any gaps that may be obvious. Check the locks on your doors and windows are all working. Thieves come in and quickly check your windows and if there's one that's not locked or loose, they'll use that as an opportunity to get inside your home."
Darryn says the second step is to remove potential hiding places, by cutting back trees and shrubs.
"There might be some large trees or overhanging branches that could easily be used to access windows and get on to balconies," he says. "Also, bins can easily be dragged around to help them climb up to access your house.
Darryn says a third step is to install motion detection lights.
"Potential thieves dislike lit-up areas, so the more light you can project around the home the better," he says. "Remove those hiding spots where they can get in and throw a lot of light out. That will certainly act as a great deterrent."
Darryn also recommends installing security screen doors, or checking any existing ones. "When you're checking them you want to make sure the security mesh on the doors doesn't need replacing. This is especially important in the summer months because it's when we open up our homes to get breezes in, so we rely on the security doors a lot more.
"If you don't have security mesh, it is a good idea to install it."
Darryn also suggests getting in a professional like ADT Security to help with a security audit.
"Part of what we do is a walk-through with the customer to talk to them about what they're wanting to protect," he says.
Darryn points out that it's worthwhile getting to know your neighbours.
"If you're going on holidays it's a good idea to tell your neighbours and ask them to collect your mail," he says. "Having packages left on your doorstep can be a problem, signalling that no one is home. You could ask them to park their car in your driveway to give the appearance that someone is home."
Darryn also advises people use social media wisely and think twice before sharing details about their holidays.
"It's not a good idea to go broadcasting where you're going for holidays and for how long you're going," he says. "You don't want to let the whole world know you're going to be away. You're basically telling people no one's going to be there."
Darryn believes alarms are the best form of security.
"An alarm will act as a deterrent, especially if it's linked to back-to-base monitoring," he says.
A MONTH BEFORE YOU GO
Undertake a home security audit. Try to think like a thief while you walk around your property.
Organise a home security professional to visit your home to assess it and create a tailored solution.
Consider live streaming cameras. Cameras positioned around the home are ideal for monitoring all sorts of situations from checking on parcels left at the front door to peeking in on pets while you're away.
Document your valuables: Having an updated list of valuables, including photos, can provide vital proof of ownership in the event of a burglary.
A WEEK BEFORE YOU GO
Ask your neighbours to keep an eye on your home. Having a trusted neighbour to collect the mail and bring in your bin will help ensure your home is less tempting to burglars by giving the impression that someone is home while you're away.
Hide your valuables. In the unfortunate event that an intruder breaks into your home, don't make it easy for them to find valuables.
Spray your alarm sensors to help prevent false alarms. Insects and spiders can be a common cause of false alarms so before you leave, give your security sensors a light spray with insect repellent.
Automate your lights. Programming your lights to switch on and off while you're away helps create the impression that the home is occupied.
Update your emergency contacts. If you'll be overseas or in a remote area, make sure you have a nominated emergency contact. It is also a good idea to give the contact details to a trusted neighbour.
Don't reveal holiday plans online. Be careful not to post your whereabouts or holiday plans or use geo-tagged posts. Wait until you're home to upload photos.