Out of lockdown travellers urged to lock-up homes
As holidaymakers pack their bags for the first time in months, insurance experts from Compare the Market have warned the festive season is no time to be complacent about home security.
The comparator surveyed 1,500 Australians on home security and found 42% had taken steps to protect their home by installing alarms (21%), cameras (11%) or both (10%).
But not everyone is in the habit of locking up. A quarter of respondents said they occasionally (23%) or always (2%) left windows open while their house was unattended. A small minority said they occasionally (7%) or always (1%) left their doors unlocked upon leaving the house.
While the majority of homeowners (73%) said they never left house keys outside their home, the remaining 27% admitted to hiding keys inside flowerpots, fuse boxes, mailboxes, under door mats or rocks and even in shoes or dog houses.
Compare the Market general insurance expert Stephen Zeller urged families to be vigilant, as the country reopens and spend more time away from home over Christmas.
“After another year of pandemic chaos, we’re all keen to get out of the house and spend some time away from home over the Summer,” Mr Zeller said.
“Improved home surveillance was a small silver lining to lockdown, as home workers helped deter opportunistic thieves.
“But we’ve already seen crime rates bounce back in Brisbane, where 929 unlawful entry offences were reported last month.
Data table: Unlawful entry offences in Brisbane
Source: Queensland Police Service Queensland Crime Statistics dashboard, accessed 19 November 2021. Results for the following criteria: “Brisbane” and “unlawful entry offences”.
“While the victims of crime are never to blame, it’s important we do all we can to prevent break-ins by keeping our homes secure.”
Figures from the Queensland Police Service show unlawful entry offences were on the rise in 2019 before numbers tumbled during the first lockdown of 2020.
But thefts were quick to return to normal levels after restrictions lifted. Case numbers have continued to rise since Brisbane’s last snap lockdown in August.
Mr Zeller said anyone planning an extended holiday should check their insurance policy for an important exclusion.
“Most people won’t be aware that leaving your home unattended for more than 60 days can void your policy, depending on the insurer and the terms you’ve agreed to,” he said.
“It’s always a good idea to review your policy and make sure your cover is up to date, including any valuables you’ve acquired in the past year.
“And if you can, ask a friend or family member to check in on your property, as empty houses with missing cars and overgrown lawns will inevitably be more attractive to thieves. The message is to make sure your doors are locked up, now we’re out of lockdown.”