If you’re heading off on a much-needed holiday, be careful you don’t advertise to a clever thief that you’re away.
Here are the key signs thieves look for which signal you’re away and some simple steps you can take to outsmart them.
We understand. Everyone gets excited about going on holidays. But don’t feel you have to let everyone know where you are and what you’re doing all the time. That innocent insta story, Tik Tok video or Facebook post, might just let a thief know that you’re away from home. And if you haven’t tightened up your security settings, or aren’t super careful about what you post where, often it won’t take much for them to find out where you live.
You never know who’s seeing your social updates. So, make sure you strengthen the security settings on your posts and limit the info you share. If you really want to share your holiday adventures with your family and friends, wait until you’re safely back home.
A home with no lights on in the evening, is like a bat signal telling people your house is empty. And if there’s not even any light coming from a TV or computer screen, it’s a pretty sure bet for a thief that you’re not home.
Most people have a nightly routine so try to find a way to continue that to some degree when you’re away. Use timers on lights and TVs so that they turn on when it gets darker and off around bedtime. Install motion sensor lights outside above the front entry, driveway and garage and invest in some solar lights in your yard that come on when it gets dark.
This one’s a no-brainer. If your mailbox is overflowing with junk mail or unopened letters and bills, or there are newspapers piling up on your front lawn, it’s a sure sign you’re away.
Arrange with Australia Post to have your mail held at the post office or redirected to someone you trust, and put a “no junk mail” sign on your mailbox, even just for the days you’re away. Or ask a trusted neighbour to empty your mailbox for you every day.
Some thieves will canvass a neighbourhood for a few days and watch the comings and goings to learn residents’ routines. They’ll then use this info to determine when to target your home. So, if you’re house has less activity than usual – or no activity at all – they’ll realise you’re not there.
Try to arrange someone to house-sit for you or ask a trusted neighbour or family member to keep an eye on your place. See if they’ll help make it seem like someone is home by occasionally parking in your driveway, turning on a radio or TV, opening and closing blinds, mowing your lawn and putting your bin out on garbage day. Also try mixing up your routine every now and then to keep people guessing.
If you always park your car where it can be seen by passers-by, such as in a carport, driveway or on the street, and then it’s suddenly not there for several days, it’s a good indicator that you’re away.
If you have a garage, get into the habit of parking your car in it and keeping it locked. If you don’t have a garage, asking a trusted neighbour to occasionally park in your driveway or in front of your house while you’re away, may thwart of potential thief.
Whether it’s a lawnmower, a TV, a radio, excited kids, noisy pets, video games, music, power tools or visitors, there’s usually some sort of noise coming from most households at certain times of the day. So, if your house suddenly falls silent for a few days or weeks, or someone rings your doorbell and there’s no answer, it may let a thief know you’re not home.
If you have smart appliances, or they have timer functions, set radios or TVs to turn on and off at varying times of the day. Radios set to talk stations are particularly good. Investing in a motion sensor smart camera, or a video doorbell, that sends notifications to your smartphone, can also help fool a thief that you’re at home. Some allow you to view the video in real time and even have a conversation with whoever’s at your door, even if you’re hundreds of kilometres away.
Neighbourhood Watch Victoria acknowledges the 38 mobs, the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live, and gather as employees and volunteers. We recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community and pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.
At Neighbourhood Watch, we believe everyone has the right to feel safe and welcome. We are committed to ensuring diversity, inclusion and equity are embedded throughout our organisation – in the work we do, the services we deliver and among our staff, volunteers, and the communities we work with.