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Keep your Christmas safe from burglars

The Insurance Council of New Zealand is urging New Zealanders to take steps to protect their homes from thieves this Christmas.

“Burglaries are a problem all year round, but they’re particularly prevalent at Christmas,” says ICNZ Chief Executive, Tim Grafton. “We know that 1 in 5 Kiwis don’t bother taking out insurance to cover their contents. Content insurance doesn’t just cover people for theft – it’s an important part of recovering from natural disasters, fires and other unforeseen events.”

“Contents insurance may help if your possessions have been stolen, but the best way to guarantee a stress-free Christmas is to prevent burglaries from occurring,” said Grafton.

The Council recommends people take simple steps to minimise the risk of their homes being broken into:

  • Don’t leave boxes for large or expensive gifts in the driveway for collection – this advertises what new possessions you have to potential-thieves. Take them to the tip yourself.
  • 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.

Holiday insurance tips:

  • Let your insurance company know if you are going to be away from your house for a long period, have friends staying in your home while you’re away or are planning to list your home with services such as Airbnb or Bookabach.
  • Check your house and contents policies are up-to-date and not due to run out over the holiday period.
  • Make a detailed list of possessions, including serial/model numbers and photos. Keep this with a copy of your policy somewhere separate to your possessions.
  • Mark “big ticket” items with a code or name to prove ownership. If these marks are hard to remove, they may also deter thieves.
  • Review your cover after Christmas to ensure any new valuables you may have been gifted are covered.