NSW Police and firefighters have provided residents with 11 tips to safeguard their homes against thieves and fires during the holidays.
NSW Police Force’s Corporate Sponsor for Crime Prevention, Superintendent Brad Shepherd, said criminals were often opportunists.
“They are well aware that many people leave their homes at this time of year – to visit relatives and go on holidays,” Superintendent Shepherd said.
“Don’t make it easy for them to target your place.
“When away from home, never advertise your travel plans on social media – a Facebook photo showing you on holiday is an open invitation to thieves.
“You might also consider using a timer to activate an internal light or radio to give the impression someone is home.”
Superintendent Shepherd said residents could also ask a trusted family member, friend or neighbour to keep an eye on the property, collect mail, mow the lawn and put out garbage bins.
He said this advice was in addition to everyday measures including fitting security doors, windows, locks and alarms; keeping trees and shrubs trimmed to improve visibility; and not leaving spare keys outside.
Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW)’s Superintendent Ian Krimmer said many people cooked large meals for their family and friends at this time of year and some became distracted while cooking.
“Kitchen fires account for more than half of all home fires, and we see an increase in the number of fires involving barbecues at this time of year,” Superintendent Ian Krimmer said.
“More often than not, the cause of those fires is due to cooking being left unattended, so the message is clear this festive season – keep looking when cooking.”
Superintendent Krimmer said fires could also happen in unoccupied houses and units. He said people going away should switch off and unplug electrical appliances and make sure their alarms are working.
Home safety and security tips:
Let a trusted neighbour or family friend know your whereabouts and contact details. Ask them to watch your home, empty your mailbox, mow your lawn and, most importantly, call Triple-Zero if they notice anything suspicious or if the smoke alarm activates.
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.
If you live in a bushfire-prone area, prepare your home properly – a full preparation checklist can be found at http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au
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.
Test your smoke alarms and change batteries, if required, to ensure they function.
Before you leave, close all internal doors to help contain any fire that might occur.
Then, check your doors, windows and garage are locked securely, and remove spare keys from hiding places. As you leave, check everything again.
If you have a home security alarm, activate it.