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‘Tis The Season For Theft, Warns AMI

AMI is warning people to be wary ahead of the busiest time of the year for theft claims.

Almost 20% of all theft insurance claims occur during the festive period (Dec-Jan), with January consistently the top single month for all theft claims.

“Typically, we see a spike in theft claims during summer,” says AMI Executive General Manager Consumer Brands, Paula ter Brake. “It’s likely that this is a popular time for thieves because that’s when a lot of people are away on holiday.”

The top items stolen during the festive period are clothes, tools, and phones, although sporting equipment, bikes, and electronics feature too.

“From what we can tell from the claims data, it looks like small, portable items are often taken,” says Paula ter Brake. “You might think that your shoes or bags aren’t going to be targets, but unfortunately, they are.”

Surprisingly, makeup also features on the stolen item list, with 2,249 claims for toiletries and makeup over the past five years.

Christmas gifts, parcel thefts and lost bags

Even gifts are not off limits, with 75% of all claims for gifts taken from cars, and some occasional instances from underneath Christmas trees.

Instances of stolen bags also rise in December, as bags are lost or left under seats at restaurants or at parties.

Parcel theft bucks the festive trend, however. Despite the higher number of deliveries in December, claims tend to remain relatively stable throughout the year.

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“It’s hard to say from insurance data if parcel thefts increase in December,” says Paula ter Brake, “as not all parcel thefts will result in an insurance claim. However, we do have several claims for parcels that were taken while a house was being burgled, and a few instances where parcels were taken from the whole street.”

Cars targeted while shopping

Last year, 10% of all car theft or damage claims that occurred in shopping carparks happened in December.

“December is a common time for cars to be stolen or damaged while shopping – which is probably because that’s when we spend a lot more time parked in shopping carparks,” says Paula ter Brake.

“Overall, the festive season unfortunately brings a spike in theft claims. As always, lock up your belongings, keep them out of sight, and keep in touch with your neighbours; but if the worst happens, AMI’s claims team will be available throughout the holiday season if you need us.”


Christmas crime:

  • Over the past five years, 19% of all theft claims occurred in December and January.
  • For the past five years, January has been the top month for theft, with December in second place.
  • The top 10 items stolen during the festive period are clothes, tools, phones, sporting equipment, bikes, technology, eyewear, bags, jewellery, and toiletries/makeup.
  • Over the past five years, 2019 had the highest theft rates across most months of the year.
  • September is typically the lowest month of the year for theft claims.

Over the past five years, the top regions for festive season thefts were:

  • Auckland: 32%
  • Canterbury: 19%
  • Waikato: 12%
  • Wellington: 9%
  • Bay of Plenty 6%

Motor vehicle thefts – top regions (all thefts, Jan – Nov 28, 2023):

  • Auckland: 39%
  • Canterbury: 17%
  • Waikato: 13%
  • Wellington: 9%
  • Bay of Plenty: 6%

AMI’s top tips for keeping your home safe:

  • Secure your home effectively. Install robust locks, alarm systems and motion-activated sensor lights, and don’t leave keys outside (even once).
  • Cash and jewellery are some of the first things a burglar will look for. Ensuring cash, handbags and valuables are out of sight will reduce the temptation for a burglar to attempt entry.
  • Small electricals are still on the list of must-grabs, including laptops, phones and anything that can be sold on quickly. Keep small electricals out of sight where possible.
  • Keep car keys out of sight. As improved anti-theft technology makes cars increasingly harder to steal, thieves will look for the keys so they can drive away without drawing attention to themselves.
  • Use a wooden rod in the track of sliding doors. This will help stop unwanted thieves getting through the sliding door if they were able to jimmy the lock.
  • Make friends with your neighbours. If you’re away for long periods, you can ask them to keep an eye out for anything suspicious, clear your mail and go inside to check everything’s safe. You could join a neighbourhood watch group too.
  • Keep the gardens trimmed. Trees and shrubs give unwanted intruders a place to hide, so get them trimmed regularly so they’ve got nowhere to hide.
  • Use technology. When on holiday, create the illusion you are at home with gadgets such as:

-Timed lights, radios and TVs
- Automated curtains or blinds
- Automated doorbells that can be answered via an app
- Have a neighbour remove mail, newspapers or flyers dropped at your home.

AMI’s top tips for keeping your vehicle safe:

  • Always lock your doors and close windows.
  • Don’t leave your keys in the vehicle while unattended.
  • Fit an immobiliser. Even fake ones can be effective deterrents (eg, LED light on the dash and an alarm sticker on the window).
  • Don’t leave valuable items visible, such as sunglasses or handbags.
  • Be aware of where you are leaving your vehicle overnight. Park it in a garage or off the street if you can. Most vehicle thefts occur when the car is parked on the road at night.
  • Imported vehicles do not always have security features, so investigate having these installed if possible.

Always ensure you have vehicle and home contents insurance, so you are protected if the worst does happen. Check your existing policy is up-to-date and that you are adequately insured.

About AMI:

AMI has been looking out for New Zealanders for more than 90 years and is part of the largest general insurer in the country, IAG New Zealand. IAG also trades under the State, NZI, NAC, Lumley and Lantern brands, and provides the general insurance products sold by ASB, BNZ, Westpac and The Co-operative Bank. IAG New Zealand employs over 4,000 people, holds relationships with one in every two New Zealand households, and insures $940 billion of commercial and domestic assets.

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