MEAGHAN Evans, 24, and her adult sister were in bed asleep at their mother’s home last year when it was burgled.
Luckily, their mum was away with friends for the night, as her downstairs bedroom was ransacked.
“Mum came home in the morning and the first thing she asked from downstairs was ‘have we been robbed’?” Ms Evans said.
“One of our big kitchen knives was in the middle of her bedroom floor and the room was a mess. Handbags had been emptied, jewellery taken and me and my sister’s laptops were stolen too.”
Originally baffled at how the thief had gained access, the family later found that it had been through a tiny window, which would appear far too small for a human.
“We found out from the police that the burglar was female, she’d actually pushed open a louvre window and slid through,” Ms Evans said.
“It was only about 500 millimetres wide, so wouldn’t have been easy. It was also about two metres off the ground, so she has found an outdoor chair to stand on. We have a stone fence around the whole block too, so it’s not exactly easy to access.
“The fact we were asleep upstairs was terrifying and the fact she took our knife to mum’s bedroom … we don’t know what would have happened if mum was home or one of us confronted her.”
This was the third time the Evans’ home had been broken into and while there were security alarms installed, they were turned off for fear they would be set off by the family’s two wandering cats.
“About $20,000 worth was stolen and we got some back on insurance, but mum had a bit of trouble proving everything,” Ms Evans said.
“She’d kept receipts and taken photos having been burgled before, but not of our laptops obviously. My sister’s whole thesis was saved on her laptop so she was hysterical.
“I live with my partner now and am always a bit scared. I’m hyper alert. After I moved out we made mum put in new security cameras, which she can access from her phone. A house across the road was burgled since and they actually used mum’s cameras to identify the numberplate of the car they used.
“Mum now feels 1000 times better and we feel better for her safety.”
The Evans’ story has become increasingly common, with Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures showing crime is up five per cent this year.
Meanwhile, recent YouGov research, commissioned by Nest, a security company that offers home surveillance products, revealed 30 per cent of Australians have had their homes burgled in their lifetime.
Laptops are the items Aussies most fear being stolen in a home invasion, named by 61 per cent, the Nest research revealed. Family heirlooms (48 per cent), money (44 per cent), mobile phones (44 per cent) and cars or motorbikes (37 per cent) were the next feared.
Meanwhile 35 per cent cared the most about a pet being stolen, putting furry friends on an equal paw with jewellery and just ahead of televisions (30 per cent).
Security lights with motion sensors were installed by 34 per cent of respondents, ahead of extra bolts and locks (32 per cent) and bars on windows (29 per cent) when it came to the most popular preventative measures.
These were followed by high fences (27 per cent), alarm systems (27 per cent) and guard dogs (21 per cent).
Only 16 per cent had an outdoor security camera and 15 per cent had a camera indoors, but the popularity of security cameras was on the rise, according to Maxime Veron, Nest head of product.
“Security today is becoming more thoughtful,” Mr Veron said.
“With many crimes being opportunistic, particularly those involving parcel theft or vandalism, a visible outdoor security camera acts as an effective deterrent.”
Meanwhile, iSelect CEO Scott Wilson said many Australians have lost faith in insurance companies and are instead taking greater preventative measures.
“Customers aren’t simply willing to rely on insurance to protect them in the event of a home burglary but are instead looking for ways to reduce the likelihood of a break-in in the first place,” Mr Wilson said.
“Having a security camera installed not only reduces your risk of a home burglary but can also significantly reduce your home and contents insurance premiums.”
Originally published as Aussies step up fight against crime