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How To Keep Your House Safe This Summer (And All Year Round)

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21/11/2016 1:21 PM AEDT | Updated 22/11/2016 12:41 PM AEDT
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Is your house ready for you to jet off after Christmas?

Throughout the year, it's a conversation that we tend to sideline.

Fast forward to the week before Christmas and things are a different story. You're prepping for the big day and your new year getaway and that question of security enters your mind.

Suddenly, your imminent departure is upon you.

What we advise people to do is to think about security when things are quiet and they aren't in a mad rush.

"We find that come Christmas, lots of people who haven't done much about their security all year panic and realise that they have assets worth protecting," security expert and founder of monitoring centre Calamity Daniel Lewkovitz told The Huffington Post Australia.

"They have these assets all year round. And there's no evidence to suggest that criminals are more active over the Christmas period. What we advise people to do is to think about security when things are quiet and they aren't in a mad rush as it is increasingly becoming a fairly technical topic."

According to Lewkovitz, security requires multiple layers of defence.

"The security of any dwelling is only as strong as its weakest link. If you have the best alarm, the best CCTV cameras but you had a front door that wouldn't stand up to a well-aimed kick, you don't have security."

Here are some proactive ways to safeguard your home from top to bottom.

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How visible is your surveillance?

Encourage natural surveillance outdoors

According to Lewkovitz, our home aesthetic can often be unhelpful from a security standpoint. And whilst we tend to enjoy privacy, so too do thieves.

"Particularly around the front and on the sides of your house, you should actually try to avoid that," he said. "Make it such that for a person to get to an area, they will need to do so visibly. That way, they'll tend to migrate to an easier target."

Remove any bushes, shrubs or other obstacles near your entrance that could conceal any activity from passers-by.

And Lewkovitz encourages visible security.

"Thieves like to know that they have a good chance of obtaining the goods and leaving without being caught. When they see visible security, they will tend to move elsewhere."

Alarm and monitor: Is your monitoring system up to scratch?

Which brings us here.

According to Lewkovitz, an alarm system that simply rings a siren -- and is not otherwise monitored -- is worthless.

If an alarm sits there making a lot of noise, nobody is coming.

"The proof is in the number of times people might have heard someone else's faulty, under maintained alarm system ringing and have not done anything about," Lewkovitz said.

"If an alarm sits there making a lot of noise, nobody is coming."

The best way to approach it is to have an IP monitored alarm system that ensures round-the-clock professional monitoring.

It's also important to know what you are getting -- and who is doing the monitoring. Lewkovitz recommends opting for member companies that are independently audited by the Australian Security Industry Association Limited (ASIAL).

"When you have a security problem and you go to make an insurance claim, one of the first things they are going to look at is whether they are an audited security provider. This is a crucial step."

Steven Puetzer
Where is your safe hiding?

How are you storing your valuables indoors?

When we think about protecting our valuable assets -- namely money and jewellery -- we cast our minds to the safe locked behind a flimsy cupboard in mum and dad's room.

And whilst Lewkovitz encourages a quality safe, he recommends moving past this.

"Have your safe in a discreet location that is not associated with the jewellery and the cash. It can also make sense to have a decoy safe in the bedroom," Lewkovitz said. "Be disciplined. There's no point in having a safe if you're not going to use it well. It comes back to security coming down to your weakest link."

Ensure that any valuable or expensive items are also concealed from windows or from direct view -- particularly when you're jetting off to the Bahamas.

How much are you sharing on social media?

This one's a biggie -- particularly when you're now lying poolside in said Bahamas.

"By sharing indiscriminately on social media, you're waving a huge flag to criminals and that's a huge downside," Lewkovitz said. "You need to veer on the side of caution."

This applies to not only sharing snaps of your getaway, but also belongings -- particularly those recently-endowed for Christmas.

"It's worth considering the benefits and implications of what you're posting online. Best case scenario, I would discourage people from sharing any sense of information about themselves, their family, their movements or whereabouts and their assets -- as well as any private confidential information that can also facilitate identity theft."

And worse case scenario? Ensure you have your privacy settings intact.

"Introduce enough interference so that what you are sharing becomes so general that it doesn't matter -- even if that is sharing photos of you having a great time, but not disclosing your whereabouts."

Beware of inadvertent location tagging.

Chantal Ferraro
Bondi Beach or the Bahamas?

Think about what you do with your presents

When we talk about concealing valuable items, this applies to new ones that come in fancy, festive wrapping.

"What I would suggest people do is stage your disposal of wrapping. Throw it away inside the bin, not next to the bin, over an extended period," Lewkovitz said.

"Come Boxing Day, recycle all of your glass bottles but hang onto everything else over the next few weeks rather than creating a huge magnet for criminals outside your house."

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