Home security tips: How to prevent a home break-in

Finance Writer · 8 September 2021
For many of us, our home is where we feel most comfortable and safe, so the thought of someone breaking in and stealing our belongings can be quite unsettling. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows around one in 10 Australian households experienced a household crime last year, ranging from break-ins and burglaries to motor vehicle theft and property damage. However, there are steps you can take to prevent a break-in. Here are 10 security tips to keep your home safe.

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What are thieves looking for?

Generally speaking, thieves are no longer stealing large televisions and other bulky items from people’s homes. Queensland Police Acting Senior Sergeant Darnielle Fioriti says most offenders these days are looking to steal anything that is easily portable and can be readily exchanged for cash. This can include items such as jewellery, wallets and cash, laptop computers and mobile phones.

10 tips to prevent a break-in

If you’re looking for some simple and effective ways to protect your home from thieves, here are our top 10 tips, based on advice from Acting Senior Sergeant Fioriti.

Tip #1 – Keep valuables out of sight

With thieves targeting small, expensive items in the home, it is a good idea to keep them out of sight. Keeping valuables locked up and away from public view is an easy way to protect your home from unwanted attention.

Tip #2 – Lock up

A significant number of home thefts occur through unlocked doors and windows, Acting Senior Sergeant Fioriti says. Keeping your house locked whenever you’re out is a simple and effective way of safeguarding your home. Before you head out, check all doors and windows are locked and make sure your garage door is closed.

Tip #3 – Consider additional security

Installing additional security measures in your home is a worthwhile investment, according to police. There are many options available in home security, from a simple sensor light to a more complex alarm or CCTV system. To give you a rough idea of costs, trade services website hipages advises that a single high-definition Wi-Fi camera with night vision costs around $100 to $200. A single motion sensor light would likely be cheaper than this, based on a sample of hardware store prices online. On the other end of the scale, hipages says you could be looking at $2,500 or more for a wireless alarm system that is monitored 24/7, including installation costs.

Acting Senior Sergeant Fioriti says either a sensor light, a camera or a full security system will be effective in alerting potential offenders that security measures are installed.

Tip #4 – Install a security screen

Installing a screen door – also known as a security screen – is a simple way of adding an extra layer of security to your home. Screen doors come in a variety of different materials, including extremely strong materials which are designed to withstand extreme force, such as a thief attempting to break in.

Tip #5 – Keep information to yourself

While you might be keen to tell everyone about your travel plans or post pictures online while you’re away, letting others know that you’re not at home can make you a target for a break-in, Acting Senior Sergeant Fioriti says. The same applies to anyone knocking on your door who you don’t know, so it’s best to limit the amount of information you give them.

Tip #6 – Invest in a safe

If you own expensive jewellery or have anything valuable in your home, Acting Senior Sergeant Fioriti says a heavy-duty safe that is bolted into concrete may be an excellent investment. Her other piece of advice is to make sure you actually use it. She says that too often, people buy a safe but forget to store valuables in there.

Tip #7 – Get to know your neighbours

Being friendly with your neighbours can be another effective way of safeguarding your home, as it can mean you have people to watch your home while you are away. Acting Senior Sergeant Fioriti says it’s also important to report any suspicious activity in your street, adding that if something seems out of the ordinary, you should call and report it to police.

Tip #8 – Remove hiding spaces

While it’s natural to want to create a landscaping screen for more privacy, you could be putting your home at risk, says Acting Senior Sergeant Fioriti. While you may not like others seeing into your home, having a house that’s visible from the street can help to keep your property safe. It’s also a good idea to assess your garden and remove anything that will create a hiding spot for thieves.

Tip #9 – Reconsider a spare key

If you need a spare key for a medical professional or someone else to access your home, just ensure it’s not in an obvious spot such as your front door mat or under a flower pot, as these are often the first places an offender will look. Consider a key safe with a code and make sure it is located out of sight, with a PIN that is not obvious (such as your street address or 1234).

Tip #10 – Parking your car

If possible, Acting Senior Sergeant Fioriti suggests parking your car in a garage or behind a boundary fence. If you don’t have a garage, be sure to remove all valuables from the vehicle to deter any opportunistic thieves passing by. If you do have a garage but are parking your car elsewhere, it’s also a good idea to remove any remote controls for your garage from it, as otherwise a car thief may be able to gain access to your home.

In the unfortunate event you are broken into, having photographs or records of expensive items such as jewellery or electronics, including serial numbers where applicable, may make it easier for police to locate them in places like cash exchange stores. It’s also a good idea to check your home and contents insurance to see what is and isn’t covered in your policy, being mindful that there may be exclusions in your cover, such as if you leave your home unlocked or store a spare key outside.

And keep on top of your home and contents insurance! Be sure to check your cover is adequate, up to date and the best value for you. Compare your policy with those currently available on the market in our comparison table. A sneak peek of this table is featured below, generated based on a building and contents policy taken out in NSW or ACT for a policy holder under 50 years old and cover below $550,000, with display sorted by Star Rating (highest first).

Main image source: Audio und werbung/Shutterstock.com

Sub edited by Milan Cuk.

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