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Home Security During Vacations and Home Leave

As many expats choose to vacate their homes for the home leave, Christmas, or New Year's holidays, it is a good time to take a moment to consider your domestic security. Lebaran (the holiday period at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan) is another time that you may become more vulnerable incidents of theft if thieves know your home is empty for an extended period of time.

There are a number of measures that you can take to significantly reduce your risk exposure:

  • Always maintain harmonious relationships with your domestic staff and neighbors. This one of the best forms of risk mitigation for domestic security. Over the years it has been our observation that those expatriates who have had poor relationships with their domestic staff were more likely to become victims of theft. Current or previous disgruntled domestic staff who are familiar with your routines can use your absence as an opportunity to steal items from your home. One of the many advantages of developing good relationships with your neighbors is that they are likely to alert you when they may hear of or notice problems starting to develop with your domestic staff or suspicious activity outside your home. If you are living in a compound, you might consider telling the management team that you will be away so they too can be mindful that only domestic staff is in the home.
  • Continually remind all your household staff not to admit unauthorized visitors, even if they are expatriates. Well-intended staff will sometimes allow strangers into homes for the fear of causing insult. There are some documented cases where foreigners have stolen goods from expat homes, admitted by the unknowing household staff. Be very clear that if you have not given instructions for specific individuals to be allowed into your home during your absence, then they are not to be admitted.
  • Ask your household staff to be cautious about giving sensitive information, especially in relation to your whereabouts, to those telephoning your home. It is one of the best methods for organized thieves to identify windows of opportunity to steal. Staff need only reply to a curious caller "I am sorry, he/she is not here at the moment, please leave me your name and number so that he/she can return your call." Caution them not to give details on where you have gone or how long you will be gone.
  • Ask your household staff to, as much as possible, carry out their usual household routines. This would indicate to the casual observer that you are still at home. For example, leaving the lights on at night, mowing the lawns, and cleaning the windows on their regular schedule.
  • Ask colleagues from the office or friends to telephone or visit your house unannounced. This serves to both test the effectiveness of the instructions you left with your staff, along with lowering the temptation for your staff to steal or have their own vacation during your absence. You might consider occasionally calling home for any phone messages to reinforce the message.
  • If you have not already done so, it is recommended that you take photocopies of your domestic staffs' identity cards (KTP) as well as having photographs of them on file. Be sure to obtain the details of their next of kin and home address. In your vetting process you should have had their references and bonafides verified. It is advised that you or a trusted person should have also visited them at their house or kos (rooming house) to verify their place of domicile. It is also advised that you store the KTP copies and other details in your home safe or at the office. These measures also serve to lower the temptation for any staff facing a monetary difficulty to steal from you. If you feel it is necessary, background checks can be done on domestic staff through companies such as G4S for a small charge. If you have obtained your staff through recommendations of another expat, you may feel this is not necessary. However, if you want to eliminate any reservations, a background check can help to alleviate concerns you may have.
  • Lock areas of your home or closets that the household staff do not need access to.  Many apartments and homes have been designed to allow the domestic staff only access to the kitchen and working quarters. They may be relieved that it is a lot less for them to take care of in your absence.

Having taken these few precautions, you should be able to enjoy your home leave with peace of mind.

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Last updated August 7, 2023