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Christmas isn’t just loved by kids– it’s a favourite time for burglars as well. In 2015, Australians spent a whopping $47 billion on Christmas shopping1. With that amount of goodwill for mankind going around, it’s no wonder thieves might view the Christmas season as a bonanza.

Still, with a bit of preparation and foresight there’s no reason why you should fall victim to a Christmas crime spree. Here are some tips to help keep you theft-free.

When it comes to Christmas, it pays not to advertise

It’s shocking but true – burglars have been known to break into homes at Christmas and steal gifts right from under the tree. So even though it might look festive from the street, it’s a good idea to keep your Christmas tree away from the front window – it’s an invitation for peeping toms to look in and see what gifts are lying in wait beneath. If your tree is visible from the street, perhaps don’t put the presents out until later.

Get rid of the packaging on the sly

Getting a new MacBook or super-sized flat screen TV is exciting, but it’s best to keep this information to yourself. Make sure you don’t publicise what you got for Christmas by placing packaging and boxes out on the street. Break down the packaging as much as you can and maybe don’t put the rubbish or recycling out until the day it’s collected. That way you won’t be advertising to would-be burglars what you’ve got.

Going all out with the Christmas lights?

If your idea of Christmas is to go all out with enough decorative lights to cover your home that you’re visible from any flight path, make sure you don’t leave any extension cords hanging out of open windows – it provides an easy way for burglars to get in.

Install security lighting

It stands to reason that burglars don’t want to be noticed, so motion detector lights can be an ideal deterrent. You can set them on a timer and they’ll get triggered at the slightest disturbance. If you’re going away you can also set them on a timer for an extended period of time.

Take pictures and keep records of your gifts

If you’ve received (or given) expensive gifts, it’s a good idea to record as much information about them as possible. That includes taking photographs, recording serial numbers and keeping receipts. And make sure you’ve stored this information in a few locations, such as on your computer, on a memory stick or on cloud software.

Post-Christmas is a good time to do an annual insurance health check. Take stock to see if you’ve made any high value purchases (or been given valuable gifts) and see if you need to adjust your home and contents cover accordingly. It’s also a good time to review the terms of your policy to make sure you’ve still got the right level of cover.

Going out or heading away? Make sure your home looks lived in.

Christmas is a busy time. Unfortunately it’s a busy time for burglars as well. So whether you’re out for the evening or heading away for the holidays, make sure it looks like someone’s home. An easy way is to set lights on timers to come on when it gets dark and go off again later at night.

Don’t be a Facebook over-sharer

Be careful with how much information you give away on social media. Poolside holiday pics from afar and checking in on Facebook at overseas locations can be an advertisement to thieves that your home is a sitting duck to be burgled. The same goes for pictures of any expensive Christmas presents.

Things you should know

View the Home and Contents Insurance Key Fact Sheets.

Home and Contents Insurance is issued by Westpac General Insurance Limited ABN 99 003 719 319 (except workers compensation cover where applicable). Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 distributes the insurance, but does not guarantee the insurance. This information does not take into account your personal circumstances. Read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDF 11MB) to see if this insurance is right for you.

 

1. https://www.insideretail.com.au/blog/2016/02/15/christmas-retail-spending-exceeds-expectations/