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    Protect property while on holiday

    Homeowners going on holiday over the festive season often face an increased risk of their home being burgled due to the lack of a perceived presence in their homes. It is therefore advisable to find a friend, neighbour or house-sitter to oversee the property while they are away.
    Protect property while on holiday
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    This is according to Nazeer Hoosen, executive director of PPS Short-Term Insurance, who points to PPS Short-Term Insurance claims data for the period from November 2012 to January 2013, which reveals a 25%-30% increase in claims related to home burglaries over the festive season. "This increase is likely a result of a lack of movement in the home, making it a more desirable target for burglars. The best solution to avoid home burglaries is to have someone stay in the property to create an awareness of presence."

    For those who make use of a house-sitter, they must ensure the person is someone they can trust, says Hoosen. "While it is preferable to have friends or family house-sit, there are also a number of professional house-sitting service providers available." If it is not possible to have someone stay on the premises, it is advisable to have someone visit the property on a regular basis. "This also ensures potential hazards in the home are monitored, for example, ensuring the deep freeze contents remain preserved if the electricity goes off, or checking for any water pipe or geyser bursts."

    Cancel deliveries

    Make sure someone collects any mail and that any newspapers delivered are removed from the outside of the home, says Hoosen. "It is also a good idea to cancel the delivery of the newspaper over this time period. Make sure that other deliveries are also cancelled."

    He also stresses the importance of ensuring a house alarm is in working order. "The alarm should be tested before embarking on holiday and the armed response service provider should be contacted to ensure the alarm is effectively linked back to the response centre. For those who employ a house-sitter, they must ensure he/she is aware of how to operate the alarm as well as all the insurance requirements i.e. the alarm must be set when no one is on the property."

    It is also important that homeowners do not just leave the lights on 24/7 as this gives the impression that no one is on the property to switch them off, says Hoosen. "A nice option is to implement a timer in the home that switches the lights on and off according to a time schedule - especially for those who do not use a house-sitter."

    Outside protection

    Furthermore, it is advisable to ensure the house is protected from the outside, says Hoosen. "Properties with high walls and effective protection against entry into the property, such as electric fencing, razor wire or apparent alarms, are perceived as being far more difficult to burgle."

    He says burglars may also ring the front doorbell to see if anyone responds, to determine whether there is a presence in the home, so it may be a good idea for homeowners to divert the answering system of the doorbell to their mobile phone while they are away. "It is also possible to link camera footage from any CCTV cameras to be viewed on mobile devices in order to monitor the property."

    Lastly, it is important to build good relations with neighbours as they will be more likely to report a burglary should they witness one, says Hoosen.

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