Embargoed until Monday 10 April, 3am
Research suggests a relaxing holiday is a thing of the past
The notion of a relaxing holiday may be a thing of the past, according to a new survey by leading insurer
AAMI showing more than one-quarter (28 per cent) of Australians are apprehensive or uneasy leaving
their home unattended while they are away in case of holiday break-ins.
“Many people take the opportunity to go away at Easter and other holiday periods for some much-needed
rest and relaxation,” said AAMI Public Affairs Manager Geoff Hughes. “But ironically, leaving the home
‘empty’ is actually a major source of stress for some people.
“To help overcome worries about home security, we recommend a few basic measures, such as asking a
neighbour to keep an eye on the home, leaving lights on or even arranging for a house-sitter. The most
common home protection measure people use when they go away is to ask a friend, neighbour or
cleaner to collect their mail or keep an eye on the home – 85 per cent of respondents to the AAMI survey
say they do this.
“One-third of Australians (34 per cent) set timed devices such as lights or a sprinkler system and one-
third (33 per cent) try to arrange for a house-sitter.
“Interestingly, one-third of people (35 per cent) who are apprehensive about going on holidays actually
feel safer in their home than they did 12 months ago,” said Mr Hughes.
The findings are reported with the help of independent research company Sweeney Research, which
ensures the validity of the survey methodology and findings. The study is based on a national telephone
survey conducted in 2006 using a representative and statistically valid sample^ of 2381 Australian adults
in major population centres and regions across Australia.
Victims aren’t learning from experience
Of the one in three Australians (34 per cent) who have experienced a home break-in, the survey shows
one-third of these people have been known to leave their front or back door unlocked when they
shouldn’t; four in ten (41 per cent) don’t investigate when they hear other houses alarms going off; and
one in seven have been known to leave house keys under obvious places like doormats and pot plants
(14 per cent).
“Although some people who have experienced a home break-in don’t seem to learn how to better-secure
their home, the good news is that many do learn from this unfortunate experience – two-thirds (69 per
cent) always leave the lights or TV on when going out at night and most lock their doors at home every
time they leave the house (84 per cent),” said Mr Hughes.
An open invitation for would-be thieves
One in seven Australians (15 per cent) admits to leaving house keys under places like doormats and pot
“Doormats and pot plants at home entrances are among the first places thieves will check when trying to
break into a home, but one in seven people nationally continue to do this. People in Adelaide are the
least likely to do this (9 per cent) but amazingly, more than one-quarter of Hobart residents (26 per cent)
engage in this practice,” said Mr Hughes.
^ The survey does not include Western Australia as AAMI does not operate there. Except where stated, the survey explores respondents’
experiences of home security over their lifetime. AAMI’s research may differ from government and police sources, which typically examine a 12-
month period. Also, smaller or unreported incidents may be captured in AAMI’s research and not by others. The confidence interval for this
sample size is plus or minus 2 per cent, which means that for the survey sample of 2381, if the observed percentage result is 50 per cent, the
chances are 95 in 100 that the range – 48-52 per cent – includes the true percentage for the total Australian population.
“One in 50 people have their home address attached to their keys (2 per cent), which is an open
invitation for would-be burglars, should you ever lose your keys and they fall into the wrong hands,” said
One in five people with home answering machines (19 per cent) say their recorded message could signal
to potential burglars that the house is vacant.
“Answering machines are obviously popular but it is important not to let strangers know the house is
empty – never say you are out of the house and ensure the message is ambiguous, so as not to tip-off
thieves,” said Mr Hughes.
Other national findings from the AAMI home security survey:
• One in three Australians have a peep-hole in their front door (31 per cent)
• Two-thirds have security doors on all entrances to their home (64 per cent)
• One-third of Australians usually open the door when someone rings or knocks without checking
who it might be (36 per cent)
• Most agree that barking dogs are a good deterrent to burglars (85 per cent)
• Two-thirds say they always leave lights or the TV on when going out at night as a security
measure (64 per cent)
• Most Australians have home contents insurance (83 per cent)
• Six in ten people (63 per cent) retain receipts for valuable possessions
• Almost half of Australians keep a list of possessions and their approximate value (44 per cent)
and one-third (35 per cent) keep photos of their valuables.
Ten tips for keeping your home and contents secure:
1. Remember the basics – it’s no good installing locks and then not using them.
2. Make sure everyone in your home is equally security conscious. Have a routine that everyone
follows to check locks and switch on alarms when the house is left unoccupied.
3. Tell your neighbours if your home is broken into – then they can remember to be extra careful and
report any suspicious activity to police.
4. Don’t assume balcony doors or high windows are safe to leave unlocked – thieves are good at
finding ways to overcome these obstacles.
5. Store easy-to-carry, expensive items such as laptops, iPods and jewellery away and out of sight
so thieves can’t see them – consider installing a safe.
6. Don’t leave doors or windows wide open for long periods even while you’re at home.
7. Don’t leave car keys and wallets beside open windows or doors.
8. Engage deadlocks when you leave the house so that thieves cannot carry items out through your
main doors. However, never leave them locked when you are in the home as they can be a
hazard in case of fire.
9. If you can’t arrange for someone to collect your mail when you’re on holiday, ask the post office to
hold it until you return. Also, attach a ‘no advertising material’ sign to your letterbox so it doesn’t
10. Lock your meter box to prevent thieves tampering with your power supply.
To arrange a media interview, contact:
Geoff Hughes, AAMI Public Affairs Manager, ph 03 8520 1469 or 0413 483 591
Brian O’Neil, Public Relations Exchange, ph 03 9607 4500 or 0411 055 284