OPINION: A mate of the Hound's was unimpressed when he recently received his voting papers for the annual meeting of rural insurer FMG.
Stephen Cantwell, FMG's manager advice services, says theft is the leading cause of farm contents claims at that time of year.
"January appears to be the month when thieves are at their most active, resulting in a higher number of claims, but also with average values up by 23%," he says.
The rural insurance specialist suggests there are actions people can take to help to deter thieves targeting your property.
"If you're heading away, get a trusted neighbour, friend or family member to regularly check on your property," it advises. "Get them to clear your mailbox of mail, packages and junk mail and ask them to create a sense of normality by putting your rubbish out on the collection day to deter thieves who might be scouting the area."
FMG suggests it is also good practice to install automatic timer or sensor lighting around your property, at both the front and the rear, ideally mounted at high level to prevent criminals from being able to remove bulbs or cover a sensor.
Another tip is to engrave valuable equipment, making it less desirable to thieves and easier to identify should it be recovered. It's also a good idea to record details and serial numbers of high value assepts on SNAP, a free online asset register created by the NZ Police at www.snap.org.nz.
FMG also suggests using wheel locks or clamps on trailers when not in use, particularly if you're going away - even if you're staying at home. It adds that thieves also like to target quad bikes.
"Oldr bikes are also particularly vulnerable at this time of year, with experience showing they are easier to sell off, so more attractive for thieves to steal."
The rural insurer claims data shows that quads, along with other farm vehicles, are often stolen when the keys are left in the ignition switch.
"This means vehicles are at risk even if you're on farm, maybe parked up to do some work and must leave vehicles unattended."