People often don’t realise that a burglar only spends an average of three to five minutes in someone’s house. They usually know exactly what they’re targeting. A burglary can either be random because a burglar happens to see a likely target or they do their homework and target specific addresses. They are looking for signs that no one’s home, such as no lights on in the evening when there are lights on in neighbouring properties. At this time of year, they’ll see Christmas trees and target presents under the tree. So to avoid disappointed people at Christmas, don’t put your Christmas tree in your front window.
Burglary prevention tips
Police advise people to take the following steps to make their house a ‘hard target’ and reduce the risk of being burgled:
- Have a monitored alarm system and make sure it is serviced regularly
- Make sure doors, windows and other entry and exit points from your house have good-quality, effective catches and locks – deadlocks if possible.
- Always lock doors and windows at night and if you’re out in the garden or going out or away. Don’t leave a door key hidden outside – burglars know all the places to look.
- Don’t leave door and car keys in an obvious place inside your house while you are out.
- Keep garden sheds and garages secure and lock away tools and ladders.
- Have an alarm system professionally installed and consider having it monitored by a reputable security company or monitor it yourself.
- Install sensor lights on access paths or around main external doors.
- Trim trees or remove shrubbery which might ‘hide’ a burglar’s activity on your property.
- Get to know your neighbours.
- Do not leave attractive/valuable items like handbags and laptops within view of a window.
- If you’re going away, ask a trusted neighbour to clear your letterbox and make your place look occupied – turn on lights, open and close blinds/curtains, park a vehicle in your driveway, hang washing on your line or mow lawns.
- Mark valuable property and note serial numbers. Keep a record of these numbers and use the SNAP website to register your property (www.snap.org.nz).
- Consider placing ‘Beware of the dog’ signs on gates or fences.
- Set up or join a Neighbourhood Support Group in your area and display Neighbourhood Support Group signs and stickers.
- Always report suspicious activity. If you think you see a crime being committed, call 111 immediately.
- If your property, or a neighbour’s, has been burgled recently, it is best to take immediate action to improve security and reduce the risk of being burgled again.