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Person wrapping a gift in Christmas wrapping paper
Take off on your long-awaited holiday escape, confident your home is well protected. Read on for everything you need to know about house alarms, security alert systems, motion sensors and more.

Play it safe

Holidays should be relaxing, but nothing ruins a post-getaway buzz like returning to a burgled home and stolen goods. Summer can be a prime time for burglars, when homes are often unoccupied (and full of Christmas presents). Thieves tend to go for the easy win, so a few simple home security steps can decrease your chances of being targeted. From security cameras to burglar alarms, here’s how to keep your home safe and secure.

Smile for the home security cameras

Security cameras can be a key part of home security systems, providing video surveillance and peace of mind. When installing camera systems in and around your property, you want to position them over key points of vulnerability. At the minimum, place outdoor security cameras to cover the front and back doors, and garage. Then look for other potential entry points, such as ground floor windows or gates. Mount cameras out of reach, but low enough to ensure a good view. And watch out for bright light from sunlight, street lights or security lights, which can cause lens flare.

Sarica Malhotra of Swann says an outdoor camera should be easily spotted. “It serves as a visual warning to potential troublemakers, effectively dissuading thieves from even considering trespassing,” she says. “For an extra layer of security, I highly recommend the installation of Swann’s security signs and stickers. These visual cues enhance the deterrent effect, making it clear to any would-be intruders that your property is under active surveillance.”

You could even consider adding imitation cameras into the mix to amp up your perceived home security. “I would throw in a word of caution though: most troublemakers can easily identify imitation cameras, so make sure when you select one that it looks sturdy and convincing,” says Sarica.

Front view of a modern house with green bushes and trees planted into front of it

Install security sensor lights

Sensor lights can be an effective deterrent, shining a spotlight on potential burglars before they can get up to no good. The team at Arlec suggests using outdoor motion sensor lights to illuminate pathways for residents and invited guests, but also to focus on dimly lit areas of your home’s exterior, like backyard corners, alleys and driveways. “Mount the lights at a height that prevents tampering but still provides effective coverage,” they add. “Angle the lights downward to reduce glare and ensure the motion sensor can detect movement effectively.”

Before you buy outdoor motion sensors, there are several factors to consider, including range. “A longer range may be suitable for larger areas, while shorter ranges can minimise false activations,” says the Arlec team. Also look at how long the security light will stay on, energy-efficient features such as LED bulbs and dusk-to-dawn sensors (that only operate at night), and PIR sensors.

“Motion-activated lights with passive infrared (PIR) sensors detect body heat and movement, reducing false triggers caused by animals or environmental factors,” says the Arlec team.

Consider a security alert system

Home alarms for your door, window and driveway can be an affordable and DIY part of your home security system. “They can alert you or a monitoring service if someone tries to enter your property through doors or windows, or if there’s movement in your driveway,” advises the Arlec team. “Remote monitoring capabilities, such as smartphone notifications, allow you to receive alerts and take appropriate action, like contacting authorities or neighbours, even when you’re not physically present.”

Even without remote monitoring and alert features, house alarms can be a handy deterrent. DIY security alarm systems are useful when you are home to hear them, says Louise Grevel of Neighbourhood Support New Zealand – and also when you’re not. “If sound-emitting alarm systems are triggered when the system is armed and activated, it alerts any ‘uninvited visitors’ that they have been detected, encouraging them to leave your property promptly,” she says.

Modern apartment view through open glass terrace door looking at trees

Merge smart technology with home security

Smart technology brings added functionality to traditional home security equipment, while potentially putting your mind at ease, as you can use your smartphone to monitor your property while you’re poolside or at the camping ground. With a huge range of smart tech available, you can start small and scale up your house security as you like.

As well as wireless smart cameras and alarms, smart doorbell cameras are a useful tool, allowing you to not only monitor the front porch activity, but also receive smartphone notifications and communicate with visitors. “When integrated with other smart devices, smart doorbell cameras can trigger lights, chimes and announcements to make it seem like someone is answering the door,” says the Arlec team.

Adding a smart lock to your door means you can monitor movement, allow access to visitors while you’re away and check (and remotely lock) the door after they’ve gone.

Make your home look occupied

An obviously unoccupied home is an easy target and burglars are wise to tricks like leaving a light permanently on. New technologies make it easier to fool thieves into thinking you’re in residence, with remote operation or smart timer functions available on everything from lights to TVs.

Outside of your home, simulate the presence of a diligent gardener by putting watering systems on timers, and keep lawns low with a robotic lawnmower.

Inside, smart lights can mimic your daily routines, smart blinds can be programmed to open and close and smart televisions can be scheduled to switch on. “Smart speakers like Amazon Echo or Google Nest can be programmed to play music or simulate conversations at specific times,” adds the Arlec team.

Black cctv camera attached to wall of building

Ask your neighbours to help

Don’t underestimate the value of good neighbourly relations. “Ask a neighbour if they could park their car in your driveway, hang their washing on your line so it looks like someone is home, and collect your mail regularly,” suggests Louise Grevel.

Bins put out early or left out late, overgrown grass and unruly gardens are sure signs a house is empty – ask your neighbours to collect your bins and mow your verge when they do their own, or hire someone to tackle the lawns in your absence. You could even ask them (or family and friends who live nearby) to sweep your front steps and collect post while you’re away – piles of leaves and junk mail are sure signs a house is temporarily vacant.

Another good home security tip? Make sure your neighbour has your phone number in case of emergencies. And if you can entrust them with a spare key to your house, this is much safer than hiding one outside under a pot!

Keep an eye on your home at all times

Browse our smart home security product range.


Photo Credit:  Getty Images

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.