Tips to keep your home protected from burglars

Your home should feel like a safe haven. It’s where you and your family spend time together every day. Some of your most precious memories are created in your home, and it’s probably where you keep your most valuable possessions.

Across New Zealand, around 62,800 break-ins or burglaries are reported to police every year; 70% (about 50,000) of those are residential. Most of these burglaries happen in the early afternoon.

If you’ve ever been burgled, you’ll know how invasive it feels and how important it is to have a sense of safety and security at all times. Here are some simple security tips to help keep your house off the burglars’ hit list while you’re at home, out and about, or away travelling.

Make it look like you’re at home

One way to keep burglars guessing is to set up an interior timer-light that turns on every evening, whether you’re away or still coming home from work. Also, some of the modern security cameras and video doorbells connect to your mobile phone and let you talk to people at your front door. That makes it easy to pretend you’re at home, but can’t come to the door right now. At the very least they’ll know you’re watching.

If you’re planning a holiday and want to share your adventures on social media, make sure it can only be accessed by people you’d be happy to leave alone in your home. Otherwise you’re just advertising an empty house to potential burglars or their friends. Arrange a house sitter if you can, or ask a trusted neighbour to clear your letterbox daily, put your bins out then bring them back in again, and even hang different items on your clothes line every few days.

Don’t leave tools out for burglars

Fallen branches, garden tools, ladders and even children’s toys can be used to break a window or stand on for easier access to your home. So keep things tidy and lock tools away to make life harder for burglars.

Remove hiding places

Stand out on the street and take a walk around your home. Look for places where a burglar could hide from view or gain entry while no-one can see them. A tall hedge that gives you privacy from the road does the same for any burglars. Prune trees and shrubs that are close to your house, particularly those that are higher than windows.

If there are poorly lit places around your home at night, consider installing security lights that operate on a motion sensor. Many people are now installing day/night cameras that send alerts and live video to your mobile phone.

Get a home security alarm

Home alarms can’t stop someone breaking in, but they can put them off trying or reduce the time they spend in your home. Some systems even let you arm only your living areas while you’re sleeping. Modern DIY home security systems allow you to monitor things from your mobile phone. This can save the ongoing expense of professional monitoring services. Of course there’s no point in having a home alarm if you don’t set it every time you leave the house. Make it a habit you never break.

Deadlock external doors

Many external sliding doors have flimsy locks that are notoriously easy to open, especially the older models. To make them more secure, consider installing a security bar that prevents the door from sliding open even when it’s unlocked. Another option for standard and sliding doors is the use of deadlocks. If a burglar cuts or breaks the glass to reach in, they still can’t unlock the door. Deadlocked doors can also make it difficult to steal larger items. Just remember to leave the keys in the deadlocks while you’re at home, in case you need to open the door for a quick escape if there’s a fire.

Secure all windows

Close all windows whenever you go out or while you’re sleeping. If you like to leave a window open at night, you could install safety catches that limit how far it can be opened. Again, be sure you still have an instant escape route in case of a fire.

Lock external doors if you’re not near them

It’s a good idea to keep your garage door closed as much as possible to prevent prying eyes and opportunistic burglaries. If you’re out in the garden or down the back of your home, remember to close and lock the front door. Cheeky burglars can knock quietly to see if anyone is near the door, then enter to quickly steal things from your front rooms.

Strengthen the glass in doors and windows

Existing glass can be covered with a film that makes it shatter-proof and much more difficult to break. They come in clear or a range of tints that add to your privacy, making it more difficult for daytime burglars to see inside from a distance. The films are also a great safety addition for the breakable glass in older sliding doors. If you’re replacing windows, you may like to upgrade to the security of toughened safety glass.

AMI Contents insurance

Choose a level of cover that gives you the protection you need at a price that suits you.

Advanced Contents - Have the certainty that most of your household items will be repaired or replaced no matter how old they are. This is also known as 'new for old'.

Premier Contents - A cheaper plan with the flexibility of a lower level of cover. This policy will repair or replace most major household items under 10 years old and most furnishings under 5 years old.

Renters insurance - Ideal when you don’t have heaps of stuff, but still want our highest level of contents cover.