An alarming number of thefts still happen within hours of occupants leaving the home, according to a recent survey.
In this year's AA Insurance home and driver security survey, 60 per cent of burglaries happened when occupants had left the home for a short period.
The survey interviewed 1100 Kiwis over the age of 18.
Twenty-two per cent of burglaries occurred when respondents were on holiday or away for the weekend and 17 per cent occurred while occupants were still in the house.
Only about half of the survey respondents who had a house alarm always used it.
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AA Insurance customer relations manager Amelia Macandrew said, while it sounded obvious, it was important to always lock the home and turn on the security alarm when leaving.
"If you haven't already, install deadbolts and locks to your doors and windows, so even if burglars can get in, they will be limited in how much they can take."
During the warmer weather people often left the front door open to air the house but this was a great temptation to opportunistic thieves, Macandrew said.
This was especially true when valuables left near the door or under the tree could be seen from the street, she said.
Other tips for keeping property safe include being home to receive online purchase deliveries, or have them sent to where you will be, such as work.
"Keep enticing items away from the door step, gate or overstuffed letterbox and out of view – because out of sight is out of mind," Macandrew said.
"This sentiment can be applied when unloading shopping, including groceries, from your car too."
The survey showed 88 per cent of people always locked the car.
However, four in 10 admitted leaving possessions in plain sight.
Of those respondents who had experienced a car break-in, 79 per cent had their contents stolen, including items like child car seats, keys, alcohol and chewing gum.
"It's not unusual for holiday items, as well as shopping and gifts, to be stolen at this time of year, which can really put a damper on the Christmas spirit," Macandrew said.
"One AA Insurance customer was on a camping holiday over the festive season when his fishing rods worth $1800 were stolen from his boat, which was parked-up next to the caravan.
"The festive season can be a stressful time, so while we're always here for our customers when unexpected things go wrong, we'd rather help them prevent these things from happening," Macandrew said.
"That means taking a few simple precautions with your belongings and own security, so you get through the holidays safely and enjoyably."
AA Insurance's 10 top tips for a safer holiday
• Gifts under the tree are tempting for thieves so make sure they, and other valuables, can not be seen from outside the home. Also, be careful when disposing of any tell-tale packaging.
• Do not advertise when the house is empty by leaving messages on the answering machine or on social networking sites, or allowing parcels to be delivered to an empty home.
• Let neighbours know if going to be away, give them a contact phone number, and ask them to clear your mail.
• Make sure it is difficult for someone to break into the house – lock the shed, put away tools and wheelie bins.
• Do not leave a spare house key in an obvious place. Consider security options that complement each other, such as alarms, security lights and deadlocks on doors and windows.
• Lock the car, no matter where it is parked and keep your keys with you. Try to park in open, well-lit areas, or an attended, secure parking building.
• Take shopping and other valuables out of the car with you.
• If you've shopped 'til you've dropped, and must leave items in the car, then keep them in the boot.
• Remove the GPS cradle and mobile charger.
• Install additional security to your car such as an alarm, or immobiliser, to help deter thieves.