The taskforce overseeing Canberra's Mr Fluffy asbestos homes buyback is assuring former residents and neighbours of strict security measures being put in place for vacated properties.
Months of planning has been completed to ensure access to empty homes is restricted and the incentive for unauthorised entry is minimised, by destroying fixtures and any valuable items.
Contractor ACT Property Group, which is overseeing vacated homes, has changed locks and screwed doors and windows shut from the inside after residents moved out.
A spokeswoman for the territory Asbestos Response taskforce said motion sensors and alarm systems were being installed in the 600 properties already owned by the government and regular security patrols were under way.
Signs are being installed to explain security arrangements and provide contact numbers in case of problems on site, while access to utilities including gas, water and electricity are being secured and locked down. Mail delivery is being suspended and letterboxes removed.
Where required, temporary security fencing is being installed around houses on the list of more than 1000 properties published by the government on Wednesday. The spokeswoman said fencing was only being used on some sites to maintain positive streetscapes for neighbours and the community.
Mandatory warning tags are being placed on meterboxes and switchboards. Any items left in the properties such as fixed appliances or soft furnishings are marked with a paint or dye to render them worthless, in a move to reduce any incentive for theft or break in.
"From the front of the property there should be no evidence of this marking work," the spokeswoman said. "Some items at the back of properties such as hot water systems or airconditioning units will be marked."
Items are being left behind if removing them would potentially expose asbestos fibres from areas including wall cavities. Items outside such as hot water services or airconditioning units, may also have attached piping running through contaminated wall and ceiling spaces.
Soft furnishings including couches and mattresses are left in contaminated areas because they cannot be cleaned of asbestos fibres.
"It is important for the community to understand that once surrendered, the properties are ACT government assets and any items left at the properties are property of the territory," the spokeswoman said.
Lawns are maintained at empty homes and neighbours will be doorknocked by officials to inform them of the work taking place to empty homes. A letter with further detail and 24/7 contact numbers will also be provided.
To date, there have only been seven reported cases of vandalism at the surrendered properties.
Concerns about vandalism or dumping should be reported through Access Canberra on 13 22 81.
Suspicious activity can also be reported to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or via act.crimestoppers.com.au
Concerns about property entry or trespass should be reported directly to the police. Non-urgent crime can be reported on 131 444, or in an emergency on 000.
People seeking information from the Asbestos Response Taskforce can use these contacts
Phone: 13 22 81
People who are anxious or concerned can access support through their GP, ACT Medicare Local on 6287 8066, Lifeline (13 11 14) and Beyond Blue (1300 224 636)