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How to help secure your home and protect your family

Home security involves more than fitting an alarm, deadlocks or keyed window locks. Another important element is using them - every time you leave your home, even when only for a short time.

Develop the habit of always locking your doors and windows, and if you have an alarm, switching it on. Items such as push bikes, power tools and gardening tools should always be securely locked away in the garden shed or garage.

Unfortunately, security systems are often not activated. Lock up and activate your alarm system every time you leave your home and help reduce the risk of home burglary. Below are some comprehensive tips to assist you in protecting your home and family. We hope you find them useful.

While at Home

  • Install a peephole in your front door and always check the identification of strangers before you let them into your home.

  • Keep your front door and windows locked when you are gardening or working in the back area of your home. Many burglaries occur while people are relaxing in their backyard and have left their front door open or unlocked.

  • Don't leave keys on the kitchen table or any other obvious place. Intruders entering by the back door can take your keys and steal your car or return to the house while you're away.

  • You should never try to apprehend a burglar if you confront one in your home. Always contact your local police for assistance.

Simple things you can do

  • Never leave spare keys outside your home. Burglars know all the usual hiding places, especially under pot plants or mats.

  • Burglars like to conceal their activities so keep trees and shrubs trimmed, especially trees close to your house that could be climbed to gain access.

  • Secure garage doors with deadlocks, strong padbolts or padlocks.

  • Secure tilt-a-doors and roller doors with lockable padbolts or deadlocks

  • Always lock away tools, ladders and gardening equipment. These items can be used by burglars to gain easy access to your home

  • Keep a record of the serial and model numbers of your goods.

  • Engrave electrical equipment and other valuables with your driver's licence number and the State initials. Alternatives to engraving are database registered adhesive labels or electronic tagging. Photograph your valuables, especially jewellery and works of art. Although these measures won't prevent the goods from being stolen, it will help in identifying the goods if they are recovered

  • Moving into a new home? It's a good practice to replace the locks on all entry doors

  • If possible, try to avoid a regular pattern of coming and going from your home. By varying your routine you will make potential burglars unsure of the time that you may come home

  • Owning a pet dog may deter would-be burglars from targeting your home. However, be aware you may be liable if a person is injured by your dog

  • Don't keep large amounts of money in your home and ensure that all jewellery is well hidden, or preferably kept in a safe

  • Don't leave notes on the door stating that you are away or when you'll return

  • Never record personal details such as your name, address and phone number on your key ring

  • Program the phone number of your local police into your touch-phone

Neighbours - an important role

Get to know your neighbours, stay in touch with them and, together, keep an eye out for anything that looks suspicious. Be a good neighbour yourself. Report to your local police any unusual noises or activities such as breaking glass or strangers loitering or behaving suspiciously. Your prompt action may prevent a burglary. This simple neighbourly spirit can increase the security of your community and reduce the chance of you or other local residents becoming a casualty of theft.

Going on holidays

Would-be burglars will notice if you are not home, so, if you are going away, advise a trusted neighbour and ask them to keep an eye on your home and garden while you are away.

Ask your neighbour to collect your mail or ask the post office to hold it. Stop regular deliveries of milk and newspapers. Use timers on lights and radios to give your home a "lived in" appearance. Arrange for your lawn and garden to be kept trimmed and tidy and leave a key with a trusted friend or neighbour. Also advise your local police if you are going away for an extended period. Never leave a message on your answering machine to say you are on holidays.

Intruder alarms

Insurance assessors report that the risk of burglary increases for houses that have been burgled once but that very few homes with alarms that are turned on experience large losses in burglaries. They believe it is uncommon for homes where alarms are visible from the street to be burgled a second time. A burglar will generally choose another home with an obviously lower level of security.

In NSW, regulations require that the alarm system must be installed by a licensed security installer. It is preferable to use reputable security companies that are members of well known industry associations.

Similarly, it makes sense to consider the credentials of a security company when buying a security system. When making comparisons you should consider the quality of the system, the coverage provided, the ability of the company to provide service following the purchase, and cost. You should not decide on cost alone.

Alarm requirements

Home alarms vary greatly in cost and specifications. A system with the following characteristics should provide you with comprehensive and reliable security and may mean that you are entitled to a discount on your Home Contents Insurance.

Recommended requirements for an intruder alarm system for insurance purposes should include:

  • have intruder detection on or near the main entry points

  • at least one internal siren (two may be more beneficial, with one near the most likely entry point)

  • have a strobe light and an external siren (except home units) that meets the relevant noise control regulations

  • have a minimum of four intruder detection devices, including at least two internal motion detectors (home units must have at least three intruder detection devices, including at least one motion detector)

  • be connected to mains electricity and have a rechargeable battery which will operate when the mains electricity supply fails.

The following features provide better security and safety but are not essential for an intruder alarm to meet specifications for insurance discounting.

An alarm should:

  • have back-to-base 24-hour monitoring. This service may cost around a dollar per day. Benefits of monitoring are the alarm can notify the base station of break-ins and situations like smoke detection, personal duress and medical alert. Strongly recommended for home units due to the exclusion of the external siren

  • be capable of being isolated into compartments allowing free movement as well as protection, while occupants are at home, eg. two storey house

  • have a 24-hour duress/panic warning input available

  • have the provision for 24-hour smoke detection

  • be maintained and have a professional service at least once per year. The alarm's back-up battery should be replaced regularly. Check with your security provider. Some detectors also require maintenance.

  • have a satellite type external alarm, i.e. have its own back-up battery (excluding home units)

  • have individual access codes for all residents and employees, eg. gardeners, housekeepers. This provides the monitoring station with the identity of who enters and leaves your home.

Installation Advice:

Installation of the alarm system should generally comply with and meet the intent of the requirements of the Australian Standard for Intruder Alarm Systems. Motion detectors should be of high quality to reduce the possibility of activating a false alarm. Garages should be included in the alarm's surveillance region. We recommend dual detectors at a minimum.



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