Is your home safe and secure this festive season?

Friday, 23 December 2022 10:31:07 AM

NSW Police and firefighters are reminding residents to remain vigilant with their home security and take the appropriate fire precautions as the holiday season continues.

As summer is the most popular time for going on holidays, particularly over Christmas and New Year, NSW residents are being reminded to review their home security and safety measures to ensure their homes are safe from possible thieves and fire hazards.

In the last-minute rush to get ready for Christmas celebrations, it can be easy to forget the basics of home safety and security, Youth and Crime Prevention Commander, Acting Superintendent Rod Pistola, reminded the community that thieves don’t take holidays and now is the time to assess your home security measures.

“Break-ins are usually an opportunistic crime, and criminals will target homes with poor security,” A/ Supt Pistola said.

“Whether you are going away for a day or a few weeks, you need to secure your home properly to ensure that your celebrations are memorable for all the right reasons.”

Be sure to also keep your garage door and internal doors to your garage closed and locked, even if you'll only be away for a short time. It is important to also secure your vehicle when it is parked in your garage or driveway.

“Most of the recommended precautions are very simple, particularly just checking to make sure doors and windows are locked and secured – an unlocked window in an empty home, full of valuables, is an opportunistic thief’s dream.

“I’d also recommend limiting what you post on social media about your holiday, especially if your home will be unattended for an extended period.

“For those who will be celebrating at home, you should still secure doors or windows in unoccupied areas of the home, especially parts of the house that are visible from the street.”

A/ Supt Pistola added that it was important to be vigilant with mail, which is another valuable target for thieves.

“Criminals don’t necessarily need to be face to face to steal from you. If they have the right mail, it only takes a few steps for them to take your identity and access you bank accounts,” A/Supt Pistola said.

Fire & Rescue NSW Deputy Commissioner, Jeremy Fewtrell, said residents should also adopt safety precautions to protect your property from fire hazards.

“This includes small strategies like switching off and disconnecting non-essential electrical appliances and IT equipment,” Deputy Commissioner Fewtrell said.

“We also urge people to test your smoke alarms and change batteries, if required, to ensure they’re functioning properly.

“If you are going away somewhere over summer, we’d also advise you to familiarise yourselves with your new surroundings and be prepared in case of a fire.”

Holiday home safety and security tips:

• Secure or store any items that might blow away in a storm or strong winds

• If you live near bushland prepare your home by keeping the grass low and having a cleared area around your home

• Ensure your gutters, down pipes and drains are clear

• Let a trusted neighbour or family friend know of your whereabouts and contact details. Ask them to watch your home, empty your mailbox, mow your lawn and, most importantly, call Triple Zero (000) if they notice anything suspicious, or if a smoke alarm is activated.

• Dispose of Christmas wrapping and delivery/goods packaging carefully. Don’t advertise your new valuables to would-be thieves.

• Lock away your handyman/gardening tools, which may be used to force open doors or windows, and any item that may be used to gain access to the property or cause damage.

• Record descriptions, models and serial numbers of your valuables and then put them somewhere safe.

• Switch off and disconnect non-essential electrical appliances and IT equipment.

• Ensure any electrical items you decide to leave on continuously, or on timer circuits, are in good working order – that includes lights left on to deter thieves both inside and outside.

• Make sure that any lights you have left switched on are away from combustibles such as curtains and are of the right wattage to prevent overheating.

• Switch off and empty clothes dryers before you leave.

• Close all internal doors before you leave to help contain any fire that occurs.

• Pay bills in advance including electricity, gas, water, and telephone so that your supply continues while you're away.

• Avoid posting information about being away on holidays because thieves will often use this information to target properties.

• Be sure your home and contents insurance is adequate and up to date.

• Check your doors, windows and garage are locked securely, and remove spare keys from hiding places. As you leave, check everything again.

• Finally, if you have a home security alarm, activate it.

If your home has been broken into:

• Call your local police station immediately.

• Don't touch anything. Let police see your home exactly as the thief left it.

• While you are waiting for police to arrive, compile a list of what you think is missing; include brand names, model numbers, serial numbers, accurate descriptions and any engraving details.

The NSW Police Force has a wealth of information about safety and security, including fact sheets, available at: https://www.police.nsw.gov.au/safety_and_prevention/safe_and_secure

If you have concerns about possible criminal activity in your local neighbourhood, call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au/

Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence. We remind people they should not report crime information via our Facebook and Twitter pages.