26 Apr 2021
How can I protect my home and vehicle from break-ins?

How can I protect my home and vehicle from break-ins?

  • More than one in 10 Australian households are victims of a crime against their home or motor vehicle
  • Every day, almost 4000 households are affected
  • By being proactive, you can take steps to minimise the risk before something occurs, and ensure you have protection afterwards if something does happen to your property.

Your home is a place in which you should be able to feel safe and secure. It’s somewhere that is full of your possessions – sometimes your loved ones too – and can embody your personality.

Statistically, in the 12 months between July 2019 and June 2020, more than one in 10 households1 have been the victim of a crime that threatens the feeling of safety and security you should have in your home.

In that 12-month period, 238,100 households2 experienced a break-in, while a further 185,8003 experienced an attempted break-in.

More than 62,800 (0.6%) households4 experienced motor-vehicle theft, while 260,100 (2.7%)5 had something stolen from their vehicle.

Almost half a million households across Australia (4.6%)6 experienced malicious property damage, while 2.4% (229,000)7 experienced other theft.

Together, that means that every hour 162 household crimes are committed across the country and every day, almost 4000 households are affected. It’s a sobering thought.

Home burglaries in Australia

Female holidaymaker returning from holiday surveying the chaos to her home caused by a burglaryFor many of us, the prospect of someone breaking into our home, rifling through our belongings and stealing our valuables is the one that causes the most angst. And perhaps unsurprisingly, households in the lowest quintile of the Index of Relative Socio-economic Advantage and Disadvantage were more likely to experience a break-in8. Of the 238,100 households that were broken into, 75% experienced a single incident9.

Home burglaries for the 2019-20 period were at the same level as 2018-19 (2.4%), however this has dropped from 3.3% in 2008-09.

During a home burglary, 71% of people had something stolen – most commonly personal items including handbags, jewellery and clothes (25%), purse or wallet (19%) or tools (17%)10.

Attempted break-ins followed a similar pattern, in that there was no change in numbers from 2018-19 (1.9%), households in the lowest socio-economic quintile were more likely to be affected, and the majority (in this case 73%) experienced a single incident. The tell-tale evidence of an attempted break-in was most commonly a door or window being tampered with, or someone being seen or heard trying to enter the property.

Interestingly, however, households outside of capital cities were more likely to experience an attempted break-in than those in capital cities (2.2% versus 1.7%).

Motor-vehicle theft in Australia

Theft of a motor vehicle – and theft from a motor vehicle – is decreasing in Australia. In 2008-09, 4.5% of households experienced theft from their vehicle, compared to 2.7% in 2019-20, while vehicle theft decreased from 1.1% of households to 0.6% in the same period11.

That doesn’t mean there’s any room for complacency, though.

Almost 323,000 households in Australia were affected by vehicle theft – or theft from a vehicle – in the 12-month period, and the incidences usually occurred in a residential location (73%). Items commonly stolen from motor vehicles were money, purses or wallets (41%), personal items including handbags (36%) or motor-vehicle parts (15%12).

Reporting a crime

While a total of 1,017,200 households were affected by household crime in the 12 months to June 2020, only about three-quarters (765,400) of those crimes were reported to police.

It was a similar story with motor-vehicle crime, with just 53% of households reporting the crime to police.

Common reasons for not reporting the crime included thinking it was too trivial or unimportant, and believing the police could do nothing about it.

It’s important to remember, however, that if you want to make a claim on your insurance policy to cover any damage, or the theft of any item from your home or car, you must report it to the police and get an event number from them.

How to stop break-ins

There are a number of things you can do to reduce the chances of a break-in happening, and reducing the impact if it does.

Man protecting him home by setting his home alarmHome and contents insurance policies such as home insurance for homeowners, contents insurance for strata owner-occupiers or renters and motor vehicle insurance can help you after an incident has occurred, but it’s smart to take precautions to deter theft in your home before anything happens at all.

Research conducted by QBE showed that making strong connections with your neighbours is important. Also, if you’re going on holiday, for example, ensuring valuables are out of sight and that doors, windows and locks are secure are all important things to remember to do.

In addition, security measures such as window locks, CCTV, alarms and sensor lights are all attributed to helping lower incidences of home break-ins14,15 while anecdotally, lights on in the property, dogs, fences, gates and warning signs are also deterrents.

For vehicle crime, it’s always wise to leave it in a busier, well-lit place, garaging the vehicle at night if possible, keeping your keys safe, not leaving a spare key in the car, and ensuring possessions aren’t left in the vehicle – especially not in view16.

Being protected after a break-in or theft

Of course, despite taking all of the precautions you possibly can, you can still fall victim to a crime – and that’s when your insurance is critically important.

If you’re a homeowner, a QBE Home Insurance policy will cover your home and contents. If you’re a renter or strata owner-occupier, you can protect your contents with QBE Contents Insurance. From a burglary perspective, it’s wise to review your insured content sums and keep a record of the possessions you have, including photographs and receipts wherever possible to help speed things up after an event.

Your home or contents insurance also has the option to add on Portable Contents Insurance, which can cover your possessions outside of the property – so you can take your valuables with you knowing that they’re covered should anything happen to them.

The emotional strain of falling victim to a crime can be tough enough, but something you occasionally – despite your best efforts – cannot avoid. Having the right cover in place should something happen is ultimately in your control. 

1-7,11,13 https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/crime-and-justice/crime-victimisation-australia/latest-release#household-crime-summary
8-10,12 https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/crime-and-justice/crime-victimisation-australia/latest-release#break-in
14 https://www.aic.gov.au/publications/tandi/tandi495
15 https://www.police.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/113816/home_safe.pdf
16 https://www.whichcar.com.au/car-advice/prevent-your-car-being-stolen

This advice is general in nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs and may not be right for you. You must decide whether or not it is appropriate, in light of your own circumstances, to act on this advice. To decide if QBE’s products are right for you, please ensure you obtain and consider the Policy Wording or Product Disclosure Statements and Target Market Determinations, available online at QBE.com/au. Insurance issued and underwritten by QBE Insurance (Australia) Limited (ABN 78 003 191 035, AFSL 239545).

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