Home burglaries are most likely to happen during the day when people are at work.

Burglars usually get in by forcing open a window or door; they’ll also climb through an open window at night or walk in through an open door while people are upstairs or in the garden. It’s important to be security-conscious all the time – even when you’re at home.

Burglars are opportunists and will wander the streets looking for an easy target:

  • A single open window is all they need. They want to get in and out fast, so they’re likely to pass up a house with obvious security like a security alarm, and break into one that takes less effort.
  • An empty house is preferred. Thieves will look out for signs you’re not home - an overflowing letterbox or bins out on the street when neighbours have taken theirs in. Don’t advertise that you’re out or away.
  • They’ll often pick a house that looks empty and ring the doorbell in case someone is home, with a story about looking for a mate who lives in the street or some other excuse. If no-one answers they’ll have a quick look around for a key; if they don’t find one, they’ll break in.
  • Look out for your neighbours. If you hear an alarm or breaking glass, check to see what’s happening. If you see people acting suspiciously – maybe jumping fences or quickly loading up an unfamiliar car with valuable items – don’t approach them, call the police on 111.
  • If you have been burgled once, your home is more likely to be broken into again. Thieves will often come back within 3 months, giving you time to replace all the things they stole. Take all the precautions you can to keep them out. If you do come across a burglar in your home, never try to apprehend them, call the police.

A combination of simple measures can help to keep burglars out.

Install a burglar alarm.

Monitored security alarms have proven to be the most effective way to combat thieves. The most effective alarms are easily seen from the street, make a loud noise and are linked to a security service that monitors and responds when the alarm is activated.

Get into the habit of locking up – every time.
  • It may take a conscious effort to begin, but it will soon become second-nature to lock windows and doors every time you leave and while you’re at home.
  • Fit keyed locks to all your windows, however small or high up.
  • Fit double-keyed deadlocks on external doors. A solid timber door is safest - a strong lock on a weak hollow-core door won’t protect you. Deadlocks mean thieves can only leave by the way they got in, and make it harder for them to steal big items like TVs. (Don’t deadlock your doors while you’re inside, and keep keys right by the door in case you need to get out fast in an emergency.)
  • Install patio bolts on sliding doors – a common weak spot.
  • Put a peephole in your front door and get a good quality, lockable screen door to put a barrier between you and anyone who comes to the front door.
Don't leave spare keys outside.

Burglars know all the hiding spots: under the front door mat, on a window ledge, beneath a plant pot or in the letterbox or meter box. Leave keys with a neighbour or friend instead. Keep your car keys in a secure and hidden place as burglars will steal a vehicle if the opportunity presents itself.

Lock your side gates.

Side gates allow thieves easy access to the back of your house, away and out of sight from the street.

Lock your garden shed and garage.

Not only are they full of valuable and easy-to-steal tools, but they usually contain implements that thieves can use to break into your home. Always lock doors between your house and garage. And don’t leave bikes or lawnmowers on the front lawn, even while you’re at home.

Install movement-activated sensor lights.

Keep your house well-lit. And trim trees and shrubs, especially those close to windows and doors that provide cover for intruders as they try to break in.

Don’t advertise that you’re out or away.

Whether you’re away for a day or two or a few weeks, try and keep your home looking as lived-in as possible.

Don’t advertise your possessions.

Don’t leave the box of your new TV or computer outside the house. Cut boxes into pieces to recycle.

List all your valuable items.

If you’re unfortunate enough to be burgled, a list of all your valuables can help you identify what has been stolen. It’s a good idea to photograph antiques and jewellery. And always keep receipts for your possessions with your list to help with insurance claims. If you engrave your possessions with your driver’s license number, or mark them with an ultraviolet pen, it will be more difficult for thieves to sell and can help police identify your goods if they’re recovered.

You can also get involved in Operation SNAP (Serial Number Action Project). This is an initiative of the Insurance Council of New Zealand and the Police, and also involves some secondhand dealers and property recording companies. Participants are provided with a document to record serial numbers and other particulars of their property. They are also given SNAP WARNING stickers to put on items which serial numbers they have recorded and to put on house windows to alert burglars to the fact that serial numbers on the premises have been recorded. For more information please visit http://www.police.govt.nz/safety/home.operationsnap.html

‘Beware of the dog’.

Many burglars are put off by a barking dog; although a dog in the backyard might not stop them breaking through a front door or window if the animal doesn’t bark too much and attract attention. Even if you don’t own a dog, think about putting a ‘Beware of the dog’ sign on your gate.

Make sure your home contents insurance is up to date.

Check that your home contents insurance policy is current. And that you’re insured for the right amount to cover the replacement cost of your contents at today’s prices.

Note: The information is general advice and does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs, and may not suit your personal circumstances. So before making decisions about insurance products you should consider the appropriateness of the information having regard to your circumstances, and the relevant Policy Wording.