Security experts are urging New Zealanders to think like a burglar, as results from a new report suggest many people are becoming too complacent when it comes to home security.
Figures from the latest ADT NZ Secure Homes Report, commissioned by ADT Security, showed half of New Zealanders had accidentally left the house or gone to bed with the doors or windows unlocked in the last three months.
More than 1000 homeowners and renters from around the country were surveyed for the report late last year.
Almost 30 per cent of people admitted they hid a spare key outside for tradespeople, cleaners or family members. And 14 per cent of Kiwis who forgot to lock up said they had experienced a break-in in the past 12 months.
The number of people who had suffered a break-in also jumped to 43 per cent last year - up from 32 per cent the year before.
ADT spokesman and security expert, Ben Clement, said people needed to change their mindsets in order to keep their homes safe from thieves.
"It's kind of a general attitude that it's not going to happen to me.
"I think a part of that is complacency and people just not being proactive enough. It's all about making sure that people don't see you as a soft target. If they believe that it's going to be difficult, they won't try it in the first place.
"The key thing that we say is: 'Think like a burglar'. Come up to your house...it's not until you've locked yourself out of your own home that a lot of people think about it,'' Clement said.
Forgetting to lock the garage and leaving tools, equipment or other gear and objects such as wheelie bins under an open window were all helpful things for someone trying to break into a house.
"There was a rental place I had a few years ago. I was actually surprised how easy it was to get in with a little bit of ingenuity and thinking creatively,'' Clement said.
"Without the keys, I got into the house and it was surprising to me at that point that it was easy. I never thought about it until I needed to get in myself. Think about how it could be done."
Crime figures released by Statistics NZ in September showed there was a 17.8 per cent increase in unlawful entry with intent/ burglary, break and entry incidents in the past 12 months.
There were 72,780 burglary victims in 2016, compared to 61,803 last year.
Clement said the rise in crime had led to more Kiwis installing - or thinking about installing - home security monitoring systems.
Social media activity is also starting to play a big part in thefts, with thieves targeting homes they know are not occupied at the moment - thanks to holiday snaps or information being shared on the likes of Facebook and Instagram.
Sixty-six per cent of people whose children had posted their whereabouts on social media had experienced a home break-in, the survey showed.
As a result, parents were encouraged to talk to their children about sensitive information they may be sharing online and telling them to avoid posting their whereabouts and specific dates on their social media pages.
With the holiday season just weeks away, Clement said people needed to be proactive about security now.
"Nothing ruins the festive season like somebody coming in and taking all your stuff.''
• Think like a burglar: Walk around your home checking every area for security loopholes, including wheelie bins that may be used to access windows.
• Cut back hedges and fix broken fences. Eliminate hiding spots.
• Install motion sensor lights at every entry point to the house and garage.
• Check all window and door locks are secure. Consider upgrading security screens.
• Consider installing a monitored home security system, ideally with remote access.
Source: ADT Security