As the nights grow darker, opportunities for burglars to break into your home unnoticed increase UK burglary incidents generally rising by 25% in winter*. This means a greater need for solid home security, especially when you’re out over the Christmas period.
Anne Kirk, marketing director at UK insurance broker Swinton Group, shares her tips on the simple burglary prevention measures that can help you stay safe this Christmas.
Installing a burglar alarm should top your to-do list. Having an alarm will not only give you and the neighbours chance to take action if the worst happens, but if it’s clearly visible on the outside of your home, so it may also act as a deterrent to thieves.
It’s worth checking in with your insurer too when you install a new alarm – for example, if yours is fitted by a company certificated by a body like SSAIB, you could be offered a discount on your policy.
Add some motion-detection security lights around the exterior of your house which will turn on as soon as they sense movement. If you’re not expecting visitors, this will warn you that an intruder is nearby. Install these higher up on walls so criminals can’t reach up and break them.
If you’re going to be out all evening at a Christmas party, leaving some of your main lights on timers will give the impression that someone is home.
Be mindful of where you store your Christmas shopping in the run up to the big day. If these are in plain sight through windows, opportunist burglars may be more attracted to your property than others on the street. The same goes for any high-end gadgets and expensive technology.
Also, keep all keys out of sight from passers-by and far away from your letterbox. Burglars can use a hook device to steal these from inside the house. Make sure your car keys are safely hidden too – you don’t want burglars to get into your home and make off with your vehicle as well.
Most burglars will get in through an unlocked window or door and it’s surprising how many of us forget to lock up when we leave the house or go upstairs – even if it’s just for five minutes.
Remember, most home insurers insist that you keep all windows and doors locked to ensure your contents policy is valid.
Check the strength of your doors too. Your main entry door should be 45mm thick with solid hinges and mortice and pick-resistant locks. Adding a door chain may give you extra peace of mind. A qualified locksmith will be able to inform you about the very best products on offer.
Neighbourhood Watch is the UK’s largest voluntary movement, bringing together people across the community to help improve the security of local areas. Being part of it will help you to get to know the people in your local community and you can work with police to ensure that your area is protected against crime.
If you don’t have a Neighbourhood Watch scheme, chat to your neighbours and ask them to keep an eye on the house if you’re going out a lot during the festive period – and return the favour!
If you’re spending Christmas abroad or at another family member’s home, make sure you take the necessary preparation measures to make your house appear as occupied as possible. Setting up lighting timers, locking all windows – even the small ones – and back doors, and alerting your neighbours are all key.
Even asking a neighbour to go into the house every couple of days is a good way to show any lurking burglars that somebody is at home. Cancelling newspapers or milk deliveries so these don’t build up is a handy trick if you’re going to be away for a while.
Be mindful of your policy details here, some insurance cover can become invalid if you leave your home empty for weeks so be sure to give your provider a call before jetting off.
Published: 14th November 2017 | Last reviewed: November 2017