9 tips from the NZ Police about looking after your stuff

LIFESTYLE | December 2019

There are some simple steps you can take to ensure your belongings are less likely to be stolen, more likely to be found and easier to claim on insurance if they’re lost forever. These tips are based on recommendations by New Zealand Police.

A few minutes of work this weekend could save you a lot of frustration in the future. Make a few simple changes in your home and spare yourself the heartbreak of a burglary.

1. Keep a record of your purchases

When you buy things, keep a record of all relevant information, such as model number, date purchased, price and serial numbers. While a spreadsheet is ideal, most people are unlikely to put in the effort required to maintain it. So the easiest thing to do is take a photo of each item, its serial number and the receipt. Then all you need to do is save the photos to a file in the cloud. This not only helps with insurance claims, but also if you have any warranty claims.

Things like art, jewellery and other precious things should ideally be valued by a professional. The valuation should include photos of the item and a replacement cost. If you decide the item doesn’t need a valuation, take photos instead. If you have items of value, check your insurance policy as some high value items, such as jewellery or artwork, will need to be specified on your insurance policy - in these cases, you'll need a valuation at claims time.

2. Mark your valuables

Burglars are less likely to steal something that has permanent and visible markings. This is because they’re harder to sell. If possible, engrave items with your drivers licence number or phone number.

3. Join Neighbourhood Support

Once you’ve engraved your valuables, Neighbourhood Support (formerly Neighbourhood Watch) can give you a sticker to put on a window. Stick it somewhere highly visible - thieves know it makes them more likely to get caught.

4. Store your valuables safely

If you don’t have a safe and don’t want to invest in one, some banks offer safe deposit boxes. These are ideal for rarely-worn valuable jewellery, share certificates and important documents, such as deeds.

5. Take advantage of Operation SNAP

SNAP is an online database run by NZ Police. You can register your goods on the website. If they’re stolen and then recovered, they can be returned to you. This is particularly good for tradies, as tools are commonly stolen. Simply register, then list your valuable tools and electronics (including serial numbers). Plus it'll make claiming much easier if things do go missing.

6. Invest in an alarm system

An alarm can be an excellent deterrent, but keep in mind that it won’t do the whole job of home security. There are many companies who will install and monitor your home alarm. If you decide to get a professional installation, ask to see their Security Consultant Licence, Security Technician or Certificate of Approval. This is a legal requirement. If they don’t have one, consider another firm.

There’s also a range of DIY items for home security, where you can mix and match the components – window alarms, door alarms, cameras, video doorbells and more. These can be stand-alone and battery operated, or you can go for a more complex hard-wired system that runs through a central hub and stores data in the cloud. Check out our review of a couple of different providers here.

7. Keep your money safe

Never disclose your PIN number to anyone and never write it down. If a thief has your PIN number, they can clean out your bank accounts in seconds and it’s likely you’ll never get it back.

Keep your credit cards safe too. There’s a variety of ways these can be used without your permission by shopping online or through a phone. Banks monitor cards for unusual usage, but you can’t rely on that to keep your funds safe. If you lose your credit card, cancel it immediately. If someone claiming to be your bank calls asking for information about your card, remember that your bank will never ask for your PIN. Be vigilant for fraudsters always.

8. Protect your mobile phone

These days, someone gaining access to your mobile phone could cost you a lot more than the illegal use of your credit card. Think about the havoc a thief could play on your social media accounts. Always have your phone password protected. This means that even if it’s stolen, they can’t access your apps.

Get an app that will help you track down your mobile phone if it’s lost. Check Google Play or Apple Store for apps that find lost phones. The apps send out pings that help you track and find your phone.

9. Be aware

There are many good people in this world, but there are also plenty of not-so-good people. If something seems unusual, take notice. The best protection against thieves and unscrupulous people is to be alert.

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