Home and Property
October 2, 2023
Crime Prevention
How to protect your home from burglary

How to protect your home from burglary

The simplest way to prevent someone breaking into your home is to make sure it’s always as secure as possible – keep doors and windows locked, do regular home maintenance and make sure your locks and doors are the best quality you can afford.

Your home is where you should always feel safe and secure. Most house break-ins are carried out by opportunistic thieves looking for a situation that’s low risk but high in reward. So, take away the opportunity and keep your home and belongings safe.

Most burglaries happen in around 8 minutes – the time it takes to boil an egg – so try to make it as hard as possible for thieves to break into your home and steal your stuff, especially your car.

Although the list of tasks we discuss here is long, you can do most of them on your own, without much experience. Just do what works for you, with your available time and budget. Even doing a few small things is a step in the right direct to a more secure home.

Find out how safe your house is

Our free online quiz How Safe Is My House asks you a series of questions to get you thinking about the security of your home. When you’re finished, you’ll receive a customised report with tips and advice to make your home more secure.

And it’s not just about installing security equipment. Crime prevention can be as simple keeping your front and back doors locked or putting a piece of dowel in the track of your sliding door.

The quiz is an Australia-first and is based on Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles. It has been developed with support from RACV.

Get to know your neighbours

  • Sometimes it can be a challenge to get to know your neighbours, but it’s an important step to feeling safer in your neighbourhood. Start with a friendly wave, a smile and say “Hi”. 
  • Keep any eye on your neighbour’s place and ask them to do the same for you. It’s not about being nosey, just noticing if there’s anything suspicious. Intruders are more unlikely to go after a home if they think they’re being watched.  
  • Keep a spare key to your home with a trusted neighbour, not hidden somewhere near the house.

Lock all doors and windows all the time

  • Always keep your all your doors and windows locked, even if you’re only going out for a short time or you’re in another part of the house, garden, shed or garage. That includes rear doors and patio doors too. It only takes a few minutes for a thief to sneak inside, steal your stuff and leave again, without you even knowing.
  • Although deadlocks are great for protection, avoid keeping them locked when you’re inside so you can escape quickly in an emergency.
  • If you have sliding doors and windows, make them extra secure by fitting a piece of dowel into the track when it’s closed.
  • Keep your garage closed and locked when you’re not in it and remember to lock the access door to the house. Ally garage doors should be secured just as much as your front door. 

Make entries as secure as possible

  • Chose high-quality locks that aren’t easily compromised – deadlocks are best. 
  • Fitting all entries with security screen doors provides extra security while also allowing fresh air and sunshine into your home. However, make sure they are to Australian standard so that unwanted intruders are kept out. 
  • Ideally, all external doors should have solid frames, be made of solid wood, metal or fibreglass and be fitted with Australian standard locks – deadbolts are best. 
  • Fit a sturdy patio bolt to your sliding doors for extra security. This is a vertical lock that’s screwed to the top and/or bottom of your sliding door and can be locked with a key.
  • Fix hinges and strike plates to the frame with screws that are at least 80mm long. Make sure hinges are on the inside of the home, rather than the outside and invest stainless steel high security box strike plate, so the lock has a far stronger hold on the door.
  • Install motion sensor lighting above all external doors and entry points.
  • Place Neighbourhood Watch Stickers on the mailbox or front window. Contact us to request 2 free stickers.

Secure your windows

  • Intruders will only break windows as a last resort, so always keep them locked. Invest in keyed locks if you can.
  • Make sure your windows have toughed glass or add security film so they can’t be easily smashed. Even if they thieves manage to break through the film it will take them much longer and the noise may attract attention. Do the same for glass that’s in or next to any external doors.
  • Consider getting security grilles or rolling shutters for your windows. There are now several decorative and colourful models available, which are more visually appearing than the old security bars.
  • Use curtains, blinds or shutters to prevent intruders snooping. One-way blinds that allow you to see out but don’t let outsiders see in, are particularly useful.

Keep your keys and valuables out of sight

  • Don’t leave your keys easy-to-see places like a dish on the entry table, a key hook by the door, on the bench in your kitchen, in your handbag or somewhere that can be seen through a window. Keep them somewhere out of sight in an unusual spot that only you know. 
  • If possible, don’t keep house keys and car keys on the same ring. 
  • Remove temptation. Try to avoid placing expensive items like smartphones, iPads, TVs, laptops and gaming devices near windows and glass doors, where they can be easily seen from outside. 
  • Cut up boxes from any new and expensive electronic items, tools or equipment straight away and put the pieces in your recycling bin. Don’t leave them lying about in the carport or sheds – if intruders spot them, they’ll know there’s stuff in your house worth stealing.

Leave a spare key with someone you trust

  • If you have a spare house key, don’t leave it under a mat, in a pot plant or fake rock, inside the letterbox, on a door ledge or other common hiding spot outside your home. Give one to a friend, neighbour or family member you trust – it’s the safest place.
  • If you wish to invest in a key safe, buy one that’s super sturdy, attach it to a solid, fixed structure, and make sure it’s in a discreet spot that’s out of sight. Don’t install it next to your front door or in your entryway. 

Make your home look occupied

  • Most break-ins happen when a home is empty. If you are away on holiday, or just out for the evening, use timers to turn lights, TVs and radios on and off so it seems like someone is home. 
  • If you don’t have timers, put your radio on a talk channel and leave a light on in a room that you regularly use at night.
  • Keep your yard neat and tidy so passersby know someone is around. Regularly mow your lawns and keep shrubs, trees and hedges pruned and trimmed to remove any potential hiding spots for thieves. 

Show people your property is secure

  • Thieves are put off by visible security alarms and carefully directed sensor lighting. Just make sure they don’t disturb your neighbours by going off unnecessarily. 
  • Smart cameras, or smart doorbells, which connect to your mobile phone via an app, can help you keep an eye on your place while you’re out, sending you notifications when the cameras are activated. With some you can even see a live camera feed and communicate with the person who’s at your place. 
  • Don’t rely on security cameras alone to protect your home. They usually don’t prevent a burglar breaking in, but the footage can help police solve a crime. If you do have them, position them to film faces, not the tops of people’s heads. It’s best to use several different measures to secure your home.

4 quick tips

  1. Always keep all doors and windows locked – whether you’re at home or out.
  2. Keep your car locked and safely inside your garage if you have one.
  3. Get to know your neighbours. Good relationships with your neighbours can help you feel safer and you can keep an eye on each others’ places.
  4. Having a barking dog in your backyard or home will more than likely make intruders think twice before breaking in.

Get Police Assistance

For all emergencies and immediate Police assistance
Call: 000
To report non-urgent crimes or events 24 hours a day
Call: 131 444
To report information about a crime contact Crime Stoppers on
1800 333 000

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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.