Nicolette Dirk, finance writer, Justmoney.co.za
Easter is a time for festivities and holiday fun. If you are going away and leaving your home unattended you could, however, be opening yourself up to criminal activity.
Statistics from the South African Police Service (SAPS) crime report showed that there were a total of 245 531 reported cases of burglary of residential homes in 2012/2013. The report highlighted that home break-ins, particularly during the holidays, are often as a result of criminals seeing empty homes as easy targets.
Nazeer Hoosen, executive director of PPS short-term insurance has offered the following advice to homeowners, who plan on travelling to holiday destinations over the Easter weekend:
Get a house-sitter
Homeowners should find a house-sitter to oversee the property while they are away.
“A lack of movement in the home can make it a more desirable target for burglars, which is why it is advisable to have someone stay on the property to create an awareness of presence,” said Hoosen.
He added that for those who make use of a house-sitter, they must ensure the person is someone they can trust.
“While it is preferable to have friends or family house sit, there are also a number of professional house sitting service providers available,” said Hoosen.
If it is not possible to have someone stay on the premises, it is advisable to have someone visit the property on a regular basis. This also ensures potential hazards in the home are monitored, for example, ensuring the deep freeze contents remain preserved if the electricity goes off, or checking for any water pipe or geyser bursts.
Let your neighbours know
Santie Stevens, short-term insurance manager at InsuranceBusters, said it is a good idea to inform your neighbours when you are going on holiday so that they can keep an eye your home.
“Find out if your area has a neighbourhood watch and who will be on duty during the festive season. We have found that once an area has a neighbourhood watch, the incidents of burglaries have reduced, especially in the suburbs,” said Stevens.
Get your alarm system sorted
It is important that your alarm is tested before you go on holiday. Your armed response service provider should also be contacted to ensure the alarm is effectively linked back to the response centre.
“For those who employ a house sitter, they must ensure he/she is aware of how to operate the alarm as well as all the insurance requirements i.e. the alarm must be set when no one is on the property,” said Hoosen.
Protect your house on the outside
Hoosen said that properties with high walls and effective protection against entry into the property (such as electric fencing, razor wire or apparent alarms) are perceived as being far more difficult to burgle.
“Burglars may also ring the front doorbell to see if anyone responds, to determine whether there is a presence in the home, so it may be a good idea for homeowners to divert the answering system of the doorbell to their mobile phone while they are away.
It is also possible to link camera footage from any CCTV cameras to be viewed on mobile devices in order to monitor the property,” said Hoosen.
Stevens added that homes that have big trees infront is also a hazard as it is an ideal camp-out spot for burglars.
Make insurance a priority
Although the highest incidents of burglaries are between December and January holidays, it is a good idea to get your home insured now recommends Stevens.
“You will rarely get home insurance if you apply in November and, if you do, the premiums will be very high. Insurance companies won’t take a risk on consumers who will likely take insurance for December and January and cancel it in February.
Applying for insurance now will ensure that you have peace of mind during the peak time of house burglaries at the end of the year,” she said.
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