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Lock it or lose it this Christmas, says AA Insurance

Lock it or lose it this Christmas, says AA Insurance

Burglaries are on the rise, according to AA Insurance claims data, so holiday-makers are urged to be extra vigilant when locking up this Christmas.

AA Insurance claims for 2010 show that the likelihood of experiencing a burglary has increased twenty percent from last year. AA Insurance has recorded nearly 1,400 home burglaries and thefts from vehicles in 2010.

The 2010 AA Insurance Drivers Index found that 15 percent of people regularly leave their car unlocked, and of these, 27 percent often leave their car unlocked outside their home. However, of those who have experienced a vehicle break-in, 56 percent said it occurred in their driveway, carport or garage, or in a nearby street.

“Thieves will brazenly steal from under your nose,” says Suzanne Wolton, Head of Corporate Affairs, AA Insurance. “For example, several of our customers have reported having groceries or shopping stolen from the boot of their car, while they were inside their house unloading their purchases. The majority of car break-ins occur in or near people’s homes, so it’s important that you lock your car, even if you think it’s parked somewhere safe.”

“At this time of year, Christmas foods and gifts are very tempting to thieves who are looking for an easy opportunity,” says Suzanne. “The holidays also bring more time spent outdoors socialising and leaving windows and doors open in the heat, so it’s important to be safety conscious about your house. Find a place to store your valuables such as wallets, cameras and keys, so that thieves can’t simply grab them from a table or hook by the front door. And keep Christmas presents out of sight – if thieves can’t see anything of value, they will be less likely to break in.”

Thieves thrive in Hamilton

Hamilton is the city with the highest incidence for home burglaries and vehicle break-ins. You are more than twice as likely to be burgled there than the national average; AA Insurance claims data shows that for every 1,000 policies in Hamilton, 49 reported a car or home burglary this year. Central Auckland follows close behind, with residents 94 percent more likely to suffer a burglary than average. South and Eastern Auckland residents are 34 percent more at risk and Christchurch residents are 20 percent more likely than the national average to have their home or car burgled. On the other hand, cities such as Palmerston North, Tauranga, Wellington and Napier are all below the national average for burglaries. And Dunedin is one of the safest major cities for break-ins – a home or car there is 67 percent less likely to be burgled than the national average.

AA Insurance customer stories:
• One customer had travelled from Wellington to Palmerston North to stay with family for the holiday period. Arriving late she left the bags and all her Christmas presents in her locked car outside the bedroom window. The next morning she found thieves had smashed her window, emptied her luggage and used this to carry all the presents away in. This claim totalled more than $3,000.
• Another customer spent the day shopping at a large Auckland mall. To prevent her arms getting tired she made frequent trips back to her vehicle to put her shopping in the backseat. Unfortunately a thief was watching these trips and when she returned to her vehicle at the end of the day the window was smashed and all her purchases were gone. All of the receipts were also in the bags with the purchases which made completing the claim more difficult. This claim totalled approximately $1,000.

“Our message is to take extra care with your belongings this summer, whether you’re out and about, or relaxing at home,” says Suzanne. “Ensure that your house is well locked up and take all valuables out of your parked car. It would be a shame to have your holiday ruined by thieves looking to make a quick buck.”

Tips to reduce your burglary risk these holidays:
1. Presents under the Christmas tree are an advertisement to thieves. Try not to display presents until the last minute, or keep them out of sight to make your house a less obvious target.
2. Don’t leave presents or groceries in your vehicle – even if it is locked and on your property. If you have a parcel tray use this to hide your items so that your vehicle is less attractive to thieves.
3. If you are leaving your home unattended, don’t advertise this. Make sure your answering message doesn’t imply that the house is empty and ensure that you and your children do not publish holiday information on social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter.
4. Make it difficult for someone to break into your home. Lock your garden shed and put away your tools. Set your burglar alarm if you have one and don’t leave any windows open – even if they seem impossible to reach.
5. If you’re out the back of your house don’t leave windows or doors at the front open, as it’s easy for thieves to enter your home without you knowing and steal small items, such as your wallet or handbag.
6. If you’ll be away for a long period then ask someone to clear your mail frequently and try to make your home look lived in – try leaving a pair of shoes or gumboots near the door.
7. Before you leave your home remove anything that might make it an attractive target from view e.g. presents, electronic goods and alcohol. Hide your jewellery and valuable items in unlikely places.
8. Remember the Christmas spirit and keep an eye on your neighbours. If you see something suspicious – it probably is. The Police actively encourage residents to report any suspicious behaviour in their neighbourhood, so everyone can have a happy Christmas.


© Scoop Media

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