Vacant lots, lax security and houses full of brand-new goods… burglars like new housing estates for all the wrong reasons.
There’s something lovely about driving or wandering through a new housing estate.
Modern, beautifully designed and built homes on quiet streets. Places in which families have invested not only their money but their pride and their dreams. Somewhere you can see futures beginning.
Bad guys like new estates too, but for all the wrong reasons. They see prospects, welcoming showrooms full of other people’s possessions. And, often, all-too-easy targets.
Toly Christofakakis, Product Manager for RACV Security Solutions, says there are a number of elements in new housing estates that provide temptation for – often opportunistic – thieves and burglars.
‘Lots of new stuff’
“The obvious attraction is the flow of new people moving in, usually with lots of new stuff,” he says. “LCD TVs, laptops, electronics, all the things that are attractive to thieves.
“Then there’s the limited security that exists in new homes. Often when you first move into a new-built home – looking at it from a perimeter perspective – locks and fences and security doors have not yet been added.”
It’s human nature, but too often people don’t upgrade their home security until they’ve been victims of a break-in or have heard of one nearby, says Mr Christofakakis.
“But it’s very unlikely when someone moves into a fresh new home that it’s going to have all the necessary window locks, security doors or an alarm system, that it’s going to have full fencing or deterrents displayed.”
Hidden in plain sight
Often thieves can be hidden in plain sight among the many tradesmen working in estates. “So a thief can be perceived as a tradie; they’re less likely to look out of place than in more established areas.”
In fact, some thefts occur before the house is occupied, with hot-water services and appliances stolen, while some thieves are apparently using angle grinders to get into houses.
“That makes sense,” says Mr Christofakakis. “You hear an angle grinder going and you think the neighbour’s doing some work. Doesn’t sound out of place, especially compared to a hammer smashing glass.”
What makes homes vulnerable
Recently RACV Home Security did field research in new estates, and found there are aspects of new estate homes that make them vulnerable.
“What struck us was that the houses were close to the street with big windows and glass on each side of the main door and you could quite easily see into the family rooms,” says Mr Christofakakis. “You can virtually look straight through the home.”
In addition, particularly on the newest developments, homes are surrounded by vacant lots and residents have not formed relationships with neighbours, so there is less mutual looking out for each other.
“As well, the moving trucks coming in are very visible. There’s stuff coming out of the trucks and someone can just sit across the street and watch everything.”
Don’t advertise new purchases
Some people make it too easy, leaving out the boxes their new TVs and appliances were delivered in. “Really, it should go without saying,” says Mr Christofakakis. “You’re advertising what you’ve got, so don’t put your stuff out the front. Cut it in pieces and put it in the recycling bin.”
Upgrade your security from the beginning, he advises. “The first stage should be around good door locks, deadlocks to Australian standards; window locks; curtains; making sure the house looks lived in.
“Visible signs of security are seen as the best deterrent. Buy an alarm system and have it displayed, or you have CCTV where you can see the cameras. That potential thief walking past says, ‘I’m not bothering there, I’m moving on’.”