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Top tips to secure your home while you’re on holiday this summer

By Evana Savila

Summer is the time many of us head off on holiday. But while we might like to make lists of all the things we need to take with us, there’s another checklist we need to tick off – one to make your property secure.
1. Alert the neighbours

Tell your neighbours when you will be away, where you will be going, and give them a contact number. They can keep an eye on your property and report any suspicious behaviour.

2. Clear that letterbox
Cancel newspaper subscriptions. You can ask the neighbours to clear your letterbox or contact NZ Post to have your mail held while you are away. Junk mail can be a problem – you may like to consider adding a sticker to the letterbox to prevent unsolicited mail.
3. Shine a light
Smart home technology makes it easy to have lights switching on and off while you’re on holiday. Some systems will also open and close blinds, and control garden irrigation systems.
Don’t leave your house in the dark at night. Put a lamp on a timer so it looks as though someone is home. This is where smart home technology comes into its own – modern systems let you pre-programme lights to switch on and off, and even control blinds and garden irrigation. You can do all this remotely if required.
4. Blinds up
It is recommended that you leave the curtains open and the blinds pulled up.
5. Ring ring
Turn down the ringer on your phone. If no one is answering a ringing phone it’s a sure sign there’s nobody at home.
6. Locked and closed
It goes without saying that all windows, including those small high ones, should be closed, and doors locked. Make sure garages and garden sheds are also locked. Ladders and tools that could be used to break into the house need to be stored away. Leave a spare key with a neighbour, not hidden under a stone where it can be found easily.
7. No notes
Never leave notes on the door. These may draw unwanted attention from the street.
8. No posts
Take selfies while on holiday by all means, but it might be best to post them on social media after you return home, so you are not advertising your absence.
Police suggest you don’t post pictures of your holiday on social media until after you are home. There have been instances of homes being burgled following such posts.
9. Garden watch
If you have been cultivating a kitchen garden that needs regular watering, arrange to have someone give the garden a good soak every second day. Pot plants, also, will need to be watered.
10. Be proactive
* If you don’t already have a house alarm, consider getting one. It will probably reduce your home contents insurance premium and will help to deter burglars. But NZ Police says an alarm is only a back-up for good locks – it will detect an intruder but won’t always keep the burglar out. If you are considering an alarm, ask friends or colleagues to recommend a reliable company. Make sure you ask to see a current security technician or security consultant licence or certificate of approval. Don’t be pressured into buying something in a rush, or let a company ‘hard sell’ you an alarm system.
* NZ Police also recommends you identify and mark your valuables, and take photographs of portable items that are more likely to be picked up by an intruder. Neighbourhood Support can give you stickers to notify potential intruders that your property is marked. These do work as a deterrent.
* Sensor-activated outdoor security lights are good deterrents.
* Wireless CCTV cameras are another way to deter would-be criminals.
* Trim greenery – Keep trees and shrubs trimmed, especially when these are close to the house.
With a little care and attention, you should be able to relax on holiday, with no nasty surprises awaiting your return.
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