19 Dec 2018

Summer holidays the worst time for burglaries

7:24 pm on 19 December 2018

The Insurance Council of New Zealand is warning home and vehicle owners that January is the busiest times for burglaries.

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Photo: 123RF

Chief executive Tim Grafton said spikes in claims at this time of year appear linked to dishonest people looking to benefit from people's Christmas shopping and summer holidays.

"January seems to be the month when the crims are out there looking for the opportunities, people are on holiday, people will have windows open to cope with the hot summer weather.

"There are lot of new gifts and presents around in houses or in motor vehicles, so we see a big spike in January among those customers making claims for burglaries and thefts from cars," Mr Grafton said.

According to the data from 2017 and 2018, January was the busiest time of year for domestic contents claims, with more claims coming in during those two months than at any other time during the two years.

The council said research showed that on average, 76 homes around the country were burgled each day in January 2017 and again in 2018.

About 1000 claims were made on car-break-ins each January over the past two years.

Mr Grafton says typically insurers pay out $6.1 million in claims by home owners for burglaries in those months, and $3.8m helping customers replace items stolen from vehicles.

He said the council knew anecdotally that spikes occurred in January, so it "dived into the data" to get confirmation.

"For other months throughout the year we don't have spikes, but in January we do and I guess that's not surprising when people tend to be away from home and it's seen as an opportunity by criminals to take advantage of that."

Mr Grafton said that by taking some simple steps to protect homes and vehicles, people could greatly increase their chances of having a stress-free holiday period.

Tips to secure your home and contents

  • Don't leave boxes for large or expensive gifts in the driveway for collection - this advertises what new possessions you have to potential-thieves. Store them out of sight and take them to the recycling plant yourself when you get time.
  • Make sure your home always looks lived in, even when you're away - ask neighbours you trust to water your plants and clear your mailbox, and set your lights or TV to go on and off in the evening on timers.
  • Never leave a message on your home answering machine or on public internet pages (including social media) saying that you're going away on holiday.
  • Don't leave valuables on display or easily visible from windows. Be aware of where you place your Christmas tree and whether it and the presents under it can be seen from your front windows.
  • Have an alarm installed - many insurers offer premium discounts for properties that have alarms.
  • Install automatic security lighting. Lights that come on when they sense movement are a good choice for external areas. Don't place sensors for lights low enough that they can easily be tampered with.
  • Lock garages and sheds, put away wheelie bins and trim plants and trees near doors and windows. This removes tools burglars can use to break in and places they can hide.
  • Close and lock all doors and windows when you're out and while you're asleep. If you have to leave windows open, make sure they're on tamper-proof security locks.
  • Install security cameras or webcams in easy-to-spot locations. You can connect most cameras to your phone so you can see what's happening at your house wherever you are.
  • Don't run electrical cords through open-windows or doors to outdoor light displays - open doors and windows are tempting for burglars. Have an electrician install an outdoor socket instead.
  • Register your valuable possessions on www.snap.org.nz, the NZ Police's free, online asset list. If you are robbed, having your possessions registered on Snap will make it easier for the Police to track them down. It'll also help when you make a contents insurance claim.