Little confidence in anti-burglary plans

ROB STOCK
Last updated 05:00 16/12/2012

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The home and castle is under siege, but holidaying homeowners feel their anti-burglar strategies lack effectiveness.

At Christmas and New Year, Kiwi homeowners head to the beach often leaving their homes unoccupied, and each of us has strategies aimed at reducing the chances that thieves will break in, according to a survey of 1500 insured homeowners by AA Insurance.

Just how much of a blight on people's lives burglars are is shown by the fact that four in 10 respondents to the AA Insurance survey said they had been burgled, with 3 per cent in the last 12 months, rising to 5 per cent in Auckland.

One in eight people say they have had break-ins more than once. It's a startlingly high number, considering that recorded burglary statistics are that there are just over 59,500 burglaries nationwide in each of the past two years, though the number of burglaries has been falling.

But the survey found that people lacked confidence in their strategies to safeguard their homes against break-ins when away on holiday. AA Insurance found the top security measure was people asking someone to collect their mail or keep an eye on their home (79 per cent), yet only 26 per cent of people thought this was an effective deterrent.

Thirty per cent had someone mow their lawn, believing that, like a stuffed mailbox, a shaggy lawn was like hanging a "gone fishing" shingle on the roadside, yet only 2 per cent considered trimmed lawns a deterrent.

More than three in 10 people said a house sitter (37 per cent) was the best deterrent, yet only 23 per cent arranged for one.

The fear of burglary is higher among renters than homeowners, probably as they are less likely to be able to install security measures like alarms (43 per cent of homeowners have them against 23 per cent of renters), and are less likely to have dogs (31 per cent against 17 per cent).

City dwellers, Aucklanders, and North Islanders were more likely than rural dwellers and South Islanders to have more of these security measures - though dogs are more common in the country than the city.

The survey found most break-ins are daylight affairs, and 17 per cent were at home at the time of the burglary.

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- Sunday Star Times

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