Help protect your home from burglars these summer holidays

8 December 2010

As the summer holiday period approaches, New Zealand Post, Neighbourhood Support New Zealand and the Police are reminding people to be extra vigilant about protecting their homes with some easy-to-remember precautions.

The Christmas break is an opportune time for burglars as many people are away from their homes which contain new goods received as presents.

Burglars look for signs that homes are unoccupied, such as mail and newspapers building up in mail boxes. Householders are advised to put their mail on hold and to cancel newspapers before heading away.

New Zealand Post Targeted Communications general manager Sohail Choudhry says a few simple steps, such as organising a mail hold, can make a big difference in protecting homes.

“Putting your mail on hold also means sensitive information, such as bank statements, won’t be left in the mail box for long periods.”

New Zealand Post offers a Hold My Mail service which can be set up simply by visiting www.nzpost.co.nz/receiving-mail/hold-mail or any PostShop. The service costs $5.50 a week for residential customers and $11 for business customers, and takes three working days to set up. The service is free for senior citizens (65+ years).

Neighbourhood Support New Zealand Deputy Chairman and Crime Prevention Officer Paul Miller advises before going away it is a good idea to ask a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your house.

“In addition to mail piling up, burglars will look for homes with no lights on at night or where curtains are drawn during the day, so a friend or neighbour turning on lights and adjusting the curtains will act as a good deterrent. Setting lights and a radio on a timer is also a good idea.”

He also warned that, before attempting to break in to a property, thieves will often identify likely targets by walking around neighbourhoods or knocking on doors to see if a home is occupied and whether it contains items worth stealing.

“Having someone come by on a regular basis and making it look like you are home can help discourage burglars from targeting your house. People should ring the police if they answer a knock at the door and are concerned about the caller's reason for being there.

“Most home burglaries occur during the day and knocking on a door is the simplest way for a criminal to establish whether anyone is at home. Asking about a fictitious person or whether you have seen a certain dog are examples of the kinds of excuses they use for being on your property. If you don't think its right, call the police and let neighbours know too,” he says.

Police advise people should call 111 only in emergencies and to report non-emergency incidents to local police stations.

Other home security tips from New Zealand Post and New Zealand Police for people away on holiday include:

  • Invite neighbours to use the driveway and clothesline so it looks like someone is home.
  • Lock away garden tools and ladders that could be used to break in to your home.
  • Make arrangements for family pets to be looked after.
  • Invite a relative or friend to house sit.
  • Don't leave an answer phone message that you are away. Clear messages remotely or have a friend check them for you.
  • Do not ‘hide’ keys outside, burglars know all the hiding places.
  • Ensure attractive portable items like laptops, games consoles and iPods etc are stored away out of sight.
  • Don't advertise new items like DVD players or flat screen TVs by leaving the empty boxes out for recycling. Turn the boxes inside out and fold them down or drop them off at a recycling depot.
  • Hide or lock away passports and official documents - identity fraud is on the rise.
  • Don't leave car keys near doors or windows - car thefts after burglaries are also increasing.
  • Install a burglar alarm - they are still one of the most effective means to deterring a burglar.

For more about how to protect your home, visit www.ns.org.nzOpens in a new window.

To find out more about Hold My Mail and other New Zealand Post services visit www.nzpost.co.nz