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Safety tips to keep home secure this holiday season

NSW Police and firefighters are reminding residents to remain vigilant with their home security and fire precautions as the holiday season continues.

With families preparing to go away for the Christmas and New Year break, residents are being reminded to review their home security and safety measures to ensure their homes are safe from possible thieves and fire hazards.

NSW Police Corporate Spokesperson on Crime Prevention, Detective Acting Superintendent Carlene Mahoney, reminded the community that thieves don’t take holidays and now is the time to assess your home security measures.

“This is the time of year when families are preparing to relax and enjoy Christmas with their loved ones, and a few simple steps can ensure your celebrations are memorable for all the right reasons,” Det A/Supt Mahoney said.

“If you’re going away this holiday season it’s important to consider your security arrangements now to ensure you don’t become the victim of opportunistic criminals.

“These measures can be as simple as using key-operated locks on all windows and doors so it’s more difficult to gain entry.”

The public are warned thieves can strike at any time but most intruders hope to avoid confrontations. Whenever you leave your home, lock all doors and windows but maintain a “lived in” appearance by using timer devices to turn lights and radios on/off at different times.

Be sure to also keep your garage door and internal doors to your garage closed and locked, even if you’ll only be away for a short time. It is important to also secure your vehicle when it is parked in your garage or driveway.

“It’s also a good idea to limit the information you post on social media about your holiday or a day out of the home and, importantly, don’t post how long you’ll be away for,” Det A/Supt Mahoney said.

“If you are celebrating at home, secure doors and windows in areas that are unoccupied, especially parts of the house visible from the street.”

Fire & Rescue NSW Deputy Commissioner Jim Hamilton said residents should also adopt safety precautions to protect your property from fire hazards.

“This includes small strategies like switching off and disconnecting non-essential electrical appliances and IT equipment,” Deputy Commissioner Hamilton said.

“We also urge people to test your smoke alarms and change batteries, if required, to ensure they’re functioning properly.

“If you are going away somewhere over summer we’d also advise holidaymakers to familiarise yourselves with your new surroundings and be prepared in case of a fire.”

Holiday home safety and security tips:

  • Let a trusted neighbour or family friend know of your whereabouts and contact details. Ask them to watch your home, empty your mailbox, mow your lawn and, most importantly, call Triple Zero (000) if they notice anything suspicious, or if a smoke alarm is activated.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Make sure that any lights you have left switched on are away from combustibles such as curtains and are of the right wattage to prevent overheating.
  • Switch off and empty clothes dryers before you leave.
  • Close all internal doors before you leave to help contain any fire that occurs.
  • Pay bills in advance including electricity, gas, water, and telephone so that your supply continues while you’re away.
  • Avoid posting information about being away on holidays because thieves will often use this information to target properties.
  • Be sure your home and contents insurance is adequate and up to date.
  • Check your doors, windows and garage are locked securely, and remove spare keys from hiding places. As you leave, check everything again.
  • Finally, if you have a home security alarm, activate it.

If your home has been broken into:

  • Call your local police station immediately.
  • Don’t touch anything. Let police see your home exactly as the thief left it.
  • While you are waiting for police to arrive, compile a list of what you think is missing; include brand names, model numbers, serial numbers, accurate descriptions and any engraving details.

If you have concerns about possible criminal activity in your local neighbourhood, call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au/

Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence. We remind people they should not report crime information via our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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