Take a look around your home. It’s not just full of things; it’s full of memories, gifts from loved ones, and sentimental objects. There are few things more devastating than returning home to find that your house has been burgled and these one-of-a-kind objects are gone.

So, here are 20 tips to help keep your home and property safe, either while you’re out and about or while you’re away on a longer trip.

When you’re away from the house:

    1. Always remember to lock all doors and windows when you are out and set a professional installed house alarm. Fit window locks on your windows and keep the keys to them out of sight in a safe place
    2. Install deadlocks on exterior doors, including an internal door to the garage
    3. Install bars to stop burglars from sliding the glass out of louvre windows
    4. Install night security lighting that is sensitive to movement
    5. Fit deadlocks on sliding ranch doors and French doors
    6. Keep your garage or shed locked – use a strong, well secured padlock to provide extra security
    7. Make sure all your smoke detectors and fire alarms are working – these won’t stop burglars, but they will help protect you, your belongings and your home
    8. Lock ladders away, put away tools, and beware of items leaning against the house that could be used to aid access
    9. Establish or join a Neighbourhood Support Group in your area simply by getting a couple of neighbours together. Make sure your support group has been supplied with Community Support street signs and stickers. They are powerful deterrents. For more information visit the Neighbourhood Support website
    10. Don’t leave notes for friend, relatives or tradesmen around the house. Remember, thieves can read too
    11. Leave your spare key with a family member, not outside in a convenient hiding place.

If you’re away for an extended amount of time, such as a holiday:

    1. Don’t tell strangers your name by having it on your letterbox. Before going on holiday, stop newspaper deliveries and ask a neighbour to collect your mail
    2. Arrange for the lawns to be mowed so the house looks occupied, and for shrubs to be trimmed so that they do not hide an intruder’s activities
    3. Make the house look lived in – keep blinds and curtains open; ask a friend or neighbour to come in to change the curtains around and to hang their washing on your line
    4. Arrange for a friend or neighbour to park their car in your driveway from time to time
    5. Turn the volume down on your telephone so that it can’t be heard from the street – that way a thief won’t be able to hear it ringing away unanswered and you won’t annoy your neighbours
    6. Set up a desk lamp to a timer switch, so it switches on and off and night.

You can also keep your house safer by being smarter online:

    1. Don’t post holiday photos to Facebook or other social media sites until you get home – you never know who’s watching your account. If you do, ensure your security settings mean only those you trust can see them
    2. Don’t check in to locations overseas on Facebook, Twitter or Foursquare – these can sometimes be visible to the public, and let would-be burglars know you’re away
    3. Avoid out-of-office email replies or answerphone messages that let people know you are away and for how long. Keep it generic.

For more safety tips, visit the New Zealand Police website.

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