Protecting your home against burglaries while on holiday

When you’re on vacation, burglars are more likely to spot inactivity, which increases your chances of break-ins. Photo: Armand Hough / Independent Newspapers.

When you’re on vacation, burglars are more likely to spot inactivity, which increases your chances of break-ins. Photo: Armand Hough / Independent Newspapers.

Published Mar 29, 2024


Many South Africans are delighted that we're in the season of long weekends.

For many, this means taking that much anticipated leave and travelling to far away locations.

Subsequently leaving our homes unoccupied, which may in turn place personal property at risk.

When you’re on vacation, burglars are more likely to spot inactivity, which increases your chances of break-ins.

Home safety is always a challenge

Statistics from the South African Police Service have revealed an upward trend in household burglaries. According to the SAPS’ data, while burglaries at residential premises decreased by 4.4% year-on-year, they have increased by 6.8% as compared to the second quarter of 2023.

Adding more complexity to the situation is load shedding.

Power outages, in most cases, disable security systems like alarms, surveillance cameras, and electric fences.

Meanwhile a lack of street lighting during power outages also creates an environment where criminals can get easier access to your home because they are able to scale walls and fences without being seen.

Experts in the security sector have also raised concerns about crime levels during peak load shedding schedules.

This can create some anxieties for many of us when we go on holiday. How safe are our homes when we are not around and what can we do about this?

Insurance can bring some peace while you are away

Considering these factors, Dr Hardy Ncube, Head of Personal Products at Standard Bank Insurance encourages families to add “reviewing home contents policy” to their vacation checklist before setting off. This is to ensure that their properties are adequately insured.

“While your homeowners cover will safeguard the physical structure of your home in the case of a tragic event, - it doesn’t cover your belongings. It would be a mistake to assume you are covered because you have insurance in place if it doesn’t include cover for your home contents,” warned Dr Ncube.

“I would recommend that you get advice from your broker or your insurer. Should you need extra cover, make sure to arrange this before you leave for your holiday.”

While Insurance can give one peace of mind while away, the best-case scenario is not having to come back to find your home broken into or damaged and having to file a claim in the first place. Thus, Dr Ncube offers some tips to keep your home safe during this time.

Protecting our homes while we enjoy holidays

Remember to activate your alarm if you have one installed in your home. Also consider low-cost security cameras that work indoors and outdoors and motion-sensing lights that turn on automatically to create the appearance that you’re home and lighting up spots where burglars may be lurking or trying to gain entry.

It is also recommended that you notify your neighbours when travelling so they can be an additional safety support when your home is unoccupied.

They can be your eyes and ears while you are away. When they are away, you can do the same for them. You all share the same neighbourhood, so your combined knowledge will help detect suspicious activity.

Burglaries aren’t the only potential hazard to deal with while you’re away.

Damage from hazards like weather and electrical fires is also a possibility.

Load shedding remains a challenge in this instance. Use surge protectors for always-on appliances and unplug those not in use and switch off geysers to avoid damage caused by power outages or water cuts.

Also make sure your home insurance is up to date, just in case the worst happens.

Personal safety tips for creating a stress free holiday

If you are travelling by car, here are a few tips to keep you safe on the road.

Consult an appropriate service provider for a multi-point check that will indicate the safety condition of your car. The multi-point check guides you on measures to take to improve the safety of your car, ahead of your journey.

Plan your journey thoroughly and allow for overnight stops if necessary, so you don’t risk getting overly tired, which can lead to accidents.

Avoid using cellphones or any other distractions while driving. This can improve your driving score and put you in good stead to earn premium discounts when making use of an insurer-supported telematics app.

Lastly, have a great time, but pay attention to your spending, so you are in control of your finances to avoid unplanned expenses.