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Tips to prevent a break-in at home

Published September 2019

Home break-ins happen, but there are steps you can take to help prevent it.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics around 2.5 per cent of Australian households (nearly 230,000 homes across Australia) experienced a break-in between July 2016 and June 2017. In the same period, around 2.1 per cent (or just over 190,000) of homes had an attempted break-in.

Over this 12-month period:

  • 5 per cent of Northern Territory households were burgled
  • followed by Western Australia (4.3 per cent)
  • Victoria with 2.8 per cent
  • 2 per cent for NSW and Queensland.

Cash is the most commonly stolen item, followed by laptops, jewellery, and personal electronic items such as cameras and phones. Handbags, credit cards and TVs are also attractive to thieves.

The tips below can help reduce the chances of a break-in and the stress that comes with it, such as filing a policy report, making an insurance claim, taking time off work and feeling unsafe in your own home.

Security for your home

Security tools discourage thieves 

An alarm system alone is an effective way of scaring off burglars. The AIC found around 49 per cent of thieves who participated in its Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA) program were discouraged to enter the property if there was a working alarm system. In the same survey nearly 23 per cent of respondents were deterred by sensor lights and 19 per cent were discouraged by grilled windows and doors.

Change the locks 

Changing the locks after you’ve moved into a new home can make your property much more secure. You should also change the locks if you think they may have been tampered with or damaged, whether through a previous break-in attempt or otherwise.

If you or another resident lose any keys to the property you should also consider replacing the locks and sets of keys entirely. You can never be too careful when it comes to protecting your home.

Get a dog 

That same survey by the AIC discovered a surprising method for break-in prevention: a dog. More than 61 per cent of respondents said they would be dissuaded from entering a property if a dog was on site. They also said the dog didn’t necessarily have to be large or dangerous; the dog’s bark was enough to discourage thieves as it would draw attention to their presence.

Protect your valuables 

Hide them 

If you own any valuables make sure they’re hidden away where burglars can’t easily spot them.

This is especially true for valuables such as jewellery, laptops and handbags sitting on benches, tables or by a window where they can be seen from outside. Easily identifiable items are a huge incentive for thieves so they’re best hidden from view. Either move them to a more secure location or if it’s hard-to-move item such as a TV, pull the blinds or draw the curtains when you’re not home.

Insure your home and contents 

Home and contents cover will help to financially protect your personal belongings and property against home burglary. In the event of theft you can lodge a claim for the cost of stolen items and any parts of your home damaged during the break in, such as windows or doors. 

If you’re renting or own a strata-managed property you can take out contents insurance to cover personal belongings, and parts of your home’s interior such as light fittings, curtains and blinds that you have installed.

For ANZ Contents insurance or ANZ Home and Contents insurance in general you are covered up to the contents sum insured. For some contents there are specific limits, such as for an engagement ring, a prized art piece or a stamp collection the most we will pay is $3000 per item. For items worth more than $3000 you have the option of increasing the limit by specifying items under the Specified Valuables option. You can nominate the value to ensure you are getting the right coverage for the right amount. Be sure to read the product disclosure statement to understand what items can be covered under this option.

What does contents sum insured mean?

When you take out contents cover, you must nominate the replacement value of your contents at today's prices. This is called the 'sum insured' and is the maximum amount an insurer will pay out.

As theft or damage can occur outside of your home you can also take out portable contents insurance to ensure important items such as your engagement ring, mobile phone or laptops are covered. At ANZ we call it Contents Cover Away from Home, and it covers items outside the home up to the contents sum insured or the amount we have agreed if you have taken out the Specified Valuables option.  

This way you’ll have the peace of mind knowing your treasured possessions are completely covered for what they’re worth.

We’ve given you some tips on how to prevent a break-in, security for your home and how to protect your valuables. Below are more suggestions for improving every day security around your home.

Tips for every day security 

Lock up when you leave 

Every time you go out, make sure all doors that lead outside have been locked and any easy-to-access windows are properly secured. You may think a thief can’t jump up to your balcony but thieves can find a ladder or wheelie bin to help them climb up.

Keep your garage door closed even when you’re home. Not only is this another avenue for thieves to get into your property but it can give them a good idea of the kinds of valuables in your home – especially if you have an expensive car parked inside. Leaving your garage door open can also present an opportunity to steal expensive items stored there such as golf clubs, power tools or bikes.

Leave your lights on 

Another way to discourage burglars from entering your home is to leave your lights on while you’re out to give the impression someone is home. Motion sensor lights for outside your home are another great option and save energy. They can also be timed to go on at certain hours such as dusk or dawn when light is poor. 

If you’re going away you can use a timer switch to turn your lights on and off at night so it appears you’re home. You can also use a timer switch for your radio or TV to create a bit of noise too.

Make your home look lived-in 

A pile-up of mail, unkempt lawns and bins that haven’t been taken out or have remained on the kerb for some time gives thieves a sense no one has been home for a while.

To lessen the chance of a thief breaking in you might want to ask a friend or neighbour to collect your mail while you’re away, and arrange for someone to maintain your lawn and bins. 

Get friendly with your neighbours 

Your neighbours can keep an eye out while you’re away, collect your mail and report any suspicious activity going on around your home. You can return the favour if they go on holiday.

Find out more about ANZ Contents Insurance

Learn more about contents insurance


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Portable contents insurance

Your personal, portable valuables are some of the most important items you rely on. Protect these at home & when you are on the move with ANZ Portable Contents Insurance.


This information is current as at date of publication and is subject to change.

ANZ Home Insurance is issued by QBE Insurance (Australia) Limited (ABN 78 003 191 035, AFSL 239545) (QBE) and distributed by ANZ under its own license. ANZ recommends that you read the ANZ Financial Services Guide (PDF 179kB), ANZ Home Building Key Facts Sheet (PDF 130kB), ANZ Home Contents Key Facts Sheet (PDF 130kB)ANZ Home Insurance Target Market Determination (PDF 199kB) and the ANZ Home Insurance Product Disclosure Statement (PDF 548kB) (available by calling 13 16 14), before deciding whether to acquire, or to continue to hold, these products.

Although Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) ABN 11 005 357 522 AFSL 234527 distributes these products, ANZ does not guarantee or stand behind the issuers or their products.

This information is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the information is appropriate for you having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. 

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