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Australians are leaving their homes vacant, inviting burglars to help themselves

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By taking a few small steps to protect their homes, Aussie travellers can avoid major disaster.

More than 2.5 million Aussies will be leaving their homes vacant for an average of 2-4 weeks as they escape the winter chill, according to the Australian Federation of Travel Agents.

This can be problematic, considering nearly a quarter of Australian homeowners have experienced a break-in with only a quarter of those installing security to stop it next time. And that includes people not on vacation.

Here are a few helpful tips to help you protect your home while you soak up the rays elsewhere, courtesy of Ring, an Australia-based maker of digital home security systems:

  • Make sure you have home and contents insurance. This is perhaps the most important because even if the worst does happen, you can be reimbursed for almost anything that gets damaged or stolen. Being a victim of burglary isn't fun, but it's easier to manage when you know you'll have help getting through it.
  • Ask someone to collect your mail. A large pile of accumulating mail is a dead giveaway that you're not around. Ask a neighbour or friend to collect if for you. Otherwise, Australia Post can hold it for you for up to 12 months for a small fee.

  • Get a neighbour to park in your driveway. This is a pretty easy way to deter burglars and it shouldn't put too much burden on your neighbour.

  • Organise a house-sitter. Now the house is no longer vacant! If you can't find a friend to do it for you, there are plenty of house-sitting companies around Australia, or you can find one using a crowd-sourcing website.

  • Don’t brag on social. Spilling the beans by bragging about your trip on social media is a direct ad to thieves that your home may be vacant. Wait until you get home before posting, but if you absolutely must share, do so in a private group setting.

  • Eliminate hiding spots thieves can take advantage of. If you're away from home often, you may want to consider some landscaping. Thick shrubbery and tall plants are great for your own privacy but they're also great hiding spots for burglars. Make sure your yard is always trimmed and fully visible from the street, and light up any dark spots with floodlights or security cameras.
  • Set smart home timers for your lights. Unlike normal timers, smart home timers allow you to set up your lights on alternating, random schedules. This gives the impression you have a full and busy house.
  • Invest in smart security. New tech, like digital video doorbells, makes it easy to monitor your home from abroad, providing motion-sensing alerts and real-time monitoring. This will come in handy if someone is trying to break in or even if it's just the delivery man wanting to know where to leave a package!

For more tips, you can also check out finder.com.au's comprehensive home-security guide here.

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