How to protect your house over the holiday

We're heading towards time of the year when Santa brings presents - and now it's time to think about protecting them.

Thousands of Kiwis are preparing to head off on their summer holidays, leaving their homes unattended and valuables unguarded. And as they go out, burglars come in.

We spoke to two former burglars - one named Adrian Pritchard and another who wanted to be called Freddy - about how to secure your home for the holidays.

Mr Pritchard was an experienced burglar who would often steal from two or three premises per night during his criminal career, while Freddy estimates he's burgled at least 60 houses.

Here's their advice on how you can avoid making your home an easy target.

Make it look like someone's home


To minimise your chances of not being burgled the holidays, don't make it obvious no one's home, Mr Pritchard says.

"Leave the house the way you would normally, if you were just going to work."

This means leaving the curtains open, getting a neighbour to empty your letterbox, organising another car to be parked in your driveway and getting your lawn mowed.

But don't leave expensive toys outside. Freddy says that leaving expensive vehicles or toys like jet skis attract burglars' attention - and they will often come back.

Don't leave your house unlocked


This may seem obvious, but some people make it way too easy for burglars like Freddy to ransack them.

"[In] one hood there was 20 or 19 houses that had their actual door unlocked," he says.

Make sure your points of entry are secure - places like your front and back door, toilet window or the garage door.

Make sure your locks and bolts are good quality to avoid them getting jammed open. Freddy says he can break into a house in less than 20 seconds and be out in less than five minutes.

Use a security system


There are plenty of high-tech home security systems to choose from, but not everyone can afford a full-blown monitored system with a loud alarm. Here are some lower-cost tech ideas.

Use a home security system like Nest, Morepork, Ring or Netatmo. They combine indoor and outdoor security cameras, floodlight, alarms and speakers - allowing you to simultaneously film, scare and shout at the burglar.

Mr Pritchard recommends anything that produces light and sound, which are a burglar's worst fears.

"Most burglars operate in the dark. If there's any noise or any lights, they don't want to be around.

"It's like, 'Hey, someone might be noticing me here.'"

For a very low cost way of keeping an eye on your home, there are apps like Manything and Presence which let you use old camera-equipped devices as monitoring systems.

Use a safe - or hide your valuables


Laptops, TVs and jewellery are usually the first things burglars go for. If you're leaving valuables behind when you leave town, Mr Pritchard says investing in a safe is your best bet.

If a safe isn't within your budget, try to get your most valuable items out of the house while you're away. Give them to a trusted friend or relative to keep secure at their home, or you could even store them in your shed or garage.

"A lot of people do burgle sheds, but they're looking for car tools or food, fridges, freezers," says Mr Pritchard. "They don't expect a thousand-dollar ring to be stashed there."

Don't publish your holiday plans on social media


Don't share too much about what you're up to during the holidays. Those holiday snaps are great but they can give lots away.

Burglars can see you're at the beach and know there's nothing to stop them breaking in. And posting photos of your recently acquired luxury goods only makes it more tempting for them.