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Photo: iStock/boggy22.

With the festive season comes an influx of new (and often expensive) presents lying around often empty houses, creating a key opportunity for opportunistic thieves to strike.

As the weather warms up, Rent.com.au has urged tenants around Australia to use common sense to reduce the chance of a holiday headache.

The typical Aussie lifestyle (we’re talking relaxing by the pool and boozy backyard parties) can make all homes a target for thieves. Rent.com.au’s ‘Security in your rental’ survey was released and invited responses from the company’s renter database. The survey ran for a little over a week and drew responses from 1,300 Australian renters.

Renters want to know they’re living in a safe area

The safety and security of a suburb was the number one priority for renters, the survey determined. 55% of respondents said their safety in a suburb was their “top priority”. 28% of respondents said they’d had valuables stolen while renting, with the most common items stolen including cash, jewellery, audio equipment, bikes and cameras.

When asked about how safe they felt in their property, 77% of respondents said they felt safe in their current home, but 23% did not. Of the latter, 32% said they had proactively asked their landlord or agent to improve the security in their home, but had either seen no follow-up (39%) or found the landlord/agent was ‘unwilling to help’ (26%).

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Adopt a back-to-basics approach to your home security

Be wary of social media
With the advent of social media, people are quick to share pictures of their latest holiday ventures across their accounts – potentially alerting any opportunistic burglars to their absence. Be cautious about sharing if you have a huge network – most platforms are defaulting to overexposure unless your privacy settings are good. Better safe than sorry.

Keep valuables out of sight
Having a party with friends around? Keep your wallets, purses, mobile phones and handbags out of sight and secure, especially if the bulk of the crowd is gathering away from the front of the house. Keep gifts, cash and other valuables safe and well-hidden so they can’t be seen through windows or reached by burglars.

Properly dispose of all gift packaging
Have stacks of gift wrap and boxes everywhere? Don’t leave these outside on view for the world to see. This will advertise the contents of your home to thieves. Put this rubbish inside rubbish bags or take them directly to recycling depots. Where possible, don’t display gifts in your window or doorway.

Get to know your neighbours
It’s worth building a relationship with your neighbours if you’re planning to head away. Doing this will make sure someone knows you’re gone and when someone who shouldn’t be there arrives, they can help. Simply telling your neighbours that you’re going away (if you trust them) is a good idea.

Lock up your doors and windows
The summer months encourage outdoor activity, and with it comes the temptation to leave windows and doors open. Naturally, this is an open invitation for opportunistic burglars. These burglars perceive alcohol is likely to be consumed during the festive season and the chance of vigilance around security could be lowered.

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