The December festive season is a time of great joy as many of us pack our bags and head off to a holiday destination far from home. Often the holiday has been in planning for months, and the whole family is really excited. Unfortunately, when we look at the rates of crime; house break-ins start to climb from October right the way through to January, peaking in December. Although we often don’t want to admit that going away over the holidays is a ‘bad’ idea from a home security perspective, we should realise that by putting a few safeguards in place, we can try and lessen the chances of a home robbery while we are away this holiday season.

Here are a few tips to avoid getting that dreaded phone call on New Year’s eve:

Make your home ‘look’ occupied

Opportunistic theft is made easier, when all the signs are there to show a thief that no one is home. Consider adopting these strategies to ensure your home looks lived in throughout the holiday:

  • Pause postal subscriptions/deliveries or ask a neighbor to collect flyers and post from your gate’s postbox
  • If you have deliveries, change their address to someone who is staying at home during the holidays
  • Consider investing in light timers that switch your lights on (and off) automatically at a set time
  • Keep you gardener or garden service coming by to keep the grass cut and the garden tame, especially in summer rainfall areas.
  • Ask a neighbor or housekeeper to bring the bin out and back in on bin day, even if its mostly empty.

Hide your valuables

This may seem obvious, but we have heard of many tales of valuables being left out while people are away – jewelry, cameras, expensive clothing (such as leather jackets), diving equipment, bicycles etc. Bigger items can be locked in a room that cannot be accessed by anyone without the key, smaller items can be hid under shelves or in bolted safes.

Make sure your alarm is working

We all know what a disaster loadshedding causes to our alarms. Batteries run flat, alarms randomly set off or don’t power up again. It seems pointless and often homeowners stop setting the alarm and electric fence. This is a definitive way to invite December thieves into your home. Speak to your installer about ways in which you can manage loadshedding, be it by adding additional batteries, or considering a remote monitoring system such as Sentian, which affords you the ability to monitor your home and alarms remotely.

Consider adding cameras to your security system

Adding cameras to your home/business security system adds a level of oversight that cannot be achieved with sensors and noise alone. A number of modern cameras can “talk” to intruders when triggered, these act as an early deterrent before any damage is done to doors or windows. In addition, cameras paired with apps which push video to your mobile device (such as the Sentian system) afford you the opportunity to know if an alarm is caused by an intruder or just the wind.

Secure your doors

Seems obvious, but sometimes we don’t realise how ineffective our doors are. Consider asking an expert for advice on improving the locks of your doors, or options for additional security in the form of gates or security gates.

Don’t advertise your absence

Whilst on holiday we all want to share our plans and holiday antics with friends and family, unfortunately if you have an open account anyone could possibly find out where you are and what you’re up to. Furthermore, only share your holiday plans with a few selected neighbors, versus the whole community WhatsApp group.

Engage your neighbors

If possible, choose one of your immediate neighbors and an ‘across the road’ neighbor to help keep an eye out for you. There is a good chance they too will be away, but perhaps at different times to you. Perhaps they will have a house sitter, or you will and so you can make sure these people are included in the plan to watch out for each other’s properties. Strange sounds or people, cars or moving trucks are easy warnings to look out for.

Turn the water off

If you are not having a house sitter or staff coming into your home, switch the water mains off. A leak can not only cost a fortune over an extended time, but you could ruin floors etc. This could apply to your geyser too.

Other tips:

  • Leave a car in the driveway
  • Disconnect the garage door – these can be opened remotely
  • Ensure you have backup power for your alarm system
  • If you have missed the boat on contacting your installer to upgrade your system, make sure you book them for January – theft is ongoing. Sentian has a list of preferred installer suppliers and can recommend one to you – just get in touch.