With crime rates against people and property increasing 2.9 per cent in the past year, ending 31 August 2019, it’s never been more important to be vigilant about security.
Recent statistics from New Zealand Police reveal a total of 49,564 residential burglaries; an increase of 2.7 per cent compared to the previous 12 months. If we take a closer look at the cyclical trends, data shows a spike typically occurs during the summer months, peaking in January . There are a number of reasons why this may be the case; warmer weather encourages people to spend time outside, giving thieves more opportunities to strike. It’s also a traditional holiday period with more homes left unoccupied for longer periods of time. Being right after Christmas and other celebrated holidays, there is likely to be new items in the house that will appeal to thieves.
Before the summer holiday season gets into full swing, now is an ideal time to evaluate your home security. This should include reviewing your household’s daily movements and putting appropriate security plans in place.
Address home security gaps
Of the 66,399 break-ins recorded by New Zealand Police, 7.5 out of 10 were residential with most burglaries occurring in the early afternoon . To help reduce the risk of your home becoming a target for thieves, it’s important to address any security weaknesses.
Start by walking around your property, inside and out, looking for things like broken window locks or gaps in the fence and fix them as a matter of urgency. Consider installing additional deterrents such as motion sensor lighting, which can startle would-be burglars, or security cameras, which can provide visual verification of an incident. Interactive security systems like ADT Automated Security can also be a valuable investment to help you keep an eye on your home in real-time while you’re not there.
Don’t become complacent
While most of us are guilty of leaving a window or door unlocked on the odd occasion, doing so on a regular basis is a serious home security risk. Remember, leaving doors and windows unlocked is an open invitation for burglars. Likewise, don’t hide spare keys in obvious places outside the home. Thieves know to look in mailboxes, under doormats and above doorways for keys so it’s not worth putting your home at risk – it’s much safer to leave a key with a trusted neighbour or friend. As we head into the summer months and your routine changes, it’s easy to become relaxed about security so be aware of crime reports in your local area. Join a neighbourhood Facebook group and read the local newspaper to help keep you informed of what’s happening around your area and alert you to emerging crime risks. It’s also good idea to communicate to who you are living with about locking any doors and windows before the last person leaves. With everyone out of their routine, it’s important to make sure that no one assumes someone else is home or they did it prior to leaving.
Be wary of motor vehicle theft
It is expected that your cars are safe when parked at home whether in the garage or on the driveway – just as all your belongings should be. Yet in August 2018-2019, there were 57,867 reports of theft and illegal use of motor vehicles and theft of car parts and contents . Due to car immobiliser systems making car theft more difficult, thieves will often go to extraordinary lengths to steal car keys, including breaking into a home.
If a burglar does manage to gain access to the home, they are more than likely looking to steal more than just the car keys with wallets, handbags, electronic devices and jewellery a few of their most sought-after items. Car theft can be even worse if you’re away on holidays, as you may not know about the theft until you get back, by which time your car will be long gone and therefore harder to recover.
While summer can lead to an increase in household crime, there are measures you can take to ensure you don’t become a statistic. Always remember to lock your doors and windows, even if you’re at home, and keep your car keys out of sight rather than on the kitchen benchtop. Finally, if you have a monitored home security system installed, don’t forget to use it! It’s surprising how many homeowners fail to turn it on when running out the door, giving an optimistic burglar a perfect window of opportunity.