Safety at home

Burglary, or house-breaking, is one of the most common crimes in the ACT. However, research suggests most burglaries are preventable by taking a number of commonsense home security measures.

Burglaries are often crimes of opportunity. Most intruders are looking for, and often find, a house left open or unlocked, making it easy for them to get what they can with ease and make a quick getaway. You should not become complacent. We all need to take precautions that are appropriate for security and safety in our homes to reduce the risk of burglary.

If you require more information on home safety and security, you can contact Neighbourhood Watch.

On this page:

What to do if you are burgled

If you suspect you have been burgled, call police immediately on 131 444. If you have arrived home alone, ask a neighbour to come in to the house with you and wait until the police arrive. If you suspect the thieves are still inside your house, do not enter the premises.

If you have entered your home and are waiting for police to arrive, compile a list of what you think is missing. Include brand names, model numbers, serial numbers, accurate descriptions and any engraving details. Remember not to touch anything. It is important the police see your home exactly as it was left so they can obtain valuable evidence.

How to reduce the risk of burglary

Please read the Making your home more secure pamphlet (PDF, 100KB), which details steps you can take to reduce the risk of burglary, and what to do if you are burgled. The Home safety and security handbook (ACT Council on the Ageing) is also a comprehensive resource with useful advice.

Good home security is more than just fitting deadlocks or alarms. Home burglary is a common crime here in the ACT, so it is important to remember there are a number of precautions you can take to protect your property.

Identify your property

Thieves generally do not like stealing property which is clearly identified. Marked property is harder to dispose of.

Make sure you:

  • Engrave your electrical equipment and other property with your driver's licence number, prefixed by 'A' for ACT. Engraving machines are available from your local Neighbourhood Watch Association.
  • Keep photographic records of all your property which cannot be engraved, especially jewellery and works of art.
  • Store valuation certificates in a safe place.

Also, keep accurate records of what you own. It will give police a better chance of locating your property.

Personal property inventory (PDF, 700KB)

Using the phone

The following tips can help you protect your safety and security at home:

  • Do not advertise in the phone book that you live alone (initials and surname only).
  • Be cautious about information you divulge to strangers on the phone.
  • If you own an answering machine do not leave a message that you are out and not able to answer the phone. Consider what you are telling the caller.
  • Do not tell callers information like you live alone or you will be away.
  • Do not divulge private family or financial information.
  • If you receive an obscene call, hang up. If the calls persist, contact your telephone company. If they still persist, contact police on 131 444.

If you own a touch phone, key in emergency numbers of the following so they can be dialled quickly:

  • Relations, neighbours or close friends
  • Emergency - triple zero (000)
  • Police 131 444
  • Ambulance
  • Fire Department
  • Hospital

Keys

  • Never leave spare keys outside your home. Thieves know all the usual hiding places including under door mats and pot plants.
  • Don't have personal details such as your name, address and telephone number on your keys.
  • Give a duplicate set of keys to a trusted friend, relative or neighbour.
  • If you lose your keys or move into a new home make sure you change the locks.
  • If someone contacts you saying they have found your keys get them to drop them off at the nearest police station.

Windows

  • Install key operated locks on all windows making sure they can all be opened with a master key.
  • Use laminated glass or shatter resistant window film to help prevent windows being broken.

Doors

  • Install quality deadlocks on all your external doors.
  • Check your doors are correctly fitted and working properly.
  • Check door frames are secure.
  • Install a peephole in your front door and always check the identification of strangers.
  • Secure garage doors with deadlocks or strong padlocks.

Yards

  • Ensure trees and shrubs are trimmed, especially those close to your house that could be climbed to gain access to your property.
  • Make sure you keep all gates locked. The rear and sides of homes are often targeted by thieves.
  • Always lock tools, ladders and garden equipment away as these items can be used by thieves to gain entry to your home.
  • Install movement activated security lights at the front and back of your home.

Alarms

  • Visible alarm equipment can be an effective deterrent to thieves.
  • The alarm system you choose should cover all external doors and windows.

Other general security tips for your home

  • Your house number should be clearly visible from the street in case of an emergency.
  • Keep your front door locked when you are at the back of the house.
  • Do not leave messages on the front door. It lets people know you are not home.
  • Avoid having parcels left on the door step.
  • If you have to have something delivered while you are out have a neighbour collect it.
  • When out, leave a radio or television on or a light in the evening to give the impression you are home.
  • Keep cash and valuables out of sight.

For more home safety advice visit the ACT Government's Home Safety Program website. The Program is designed to assist you to improve the security of your home while endeavouring to minimise other preventable risks such as fire or injury caused by falls. 

General contacts

Home safety and security Neighbourhood Watch Ph: 0408 395 658
Neighbourhood Watch website

Emergency contacts

Situation Details Phone
Emergency (all states) You or someone else is in immediate danger, the offender is still in the vicinity, or there has been a serious accident. Ph: Triple zero (000) and ask for police. Remain on the phone until police arrive.
Crime Stoppers (all states) Report illegal activity, or provide information on unsolved crimes anywhere in Australia. You may remain anonymous. Ph: 1800 333 000 (toll free)
Police attendance (All states except Victoria and Queensland) You require police assistance, but there is no immediate danger. Report suspicious activity, theft, car collisions with no serious injury. Ph: 131 444
Police attendance at airports You require police assistance at international airports, policing both domestic and international terminals. Ph: 131 AFP (131 237)