- Are your current security measures enough to deter burglars?
- Are you keeping your valuables in obvious places?
- Why you should mark and register your property
1. There is normally a 25% spike in home burglaries in autumn and winter months.
However, plenty can be done to protect your home and possessions at the end of the year. Joel Babb, Farsight Security Services' IT manager (@farsight_ltd), suggests taking a walk around your property's boundaries.
'Look for any weak spots that may get worse, particularly as the weather gets wetter, windier and colder,' he says.
'Are any fence panels coming loose? Make sure you check behind hedges and trees and that your gates still lock effectively.'
2. Some areas are burglary claim hotspots. 
According to a recent survey, South London's SE21 postcode, along with parts of Manchester, Leeds and Milton Keynes, were rated in the UK's top 20 for burglary claims. Lynn Farrar, chairman of Neighbourhood Watch (@N_Watch), tells us that many of these burglaries could be prevented.
'We recommend the WIDE principle when securing your home. Householders should make sure their home has: window locks, interior lights left on a timer when they're away, double or dead bolts fitted on doors, and exterior lights on a sensor. Taking these basic steps can offer 49 times more protection.' 
3. 23% of people stash valuables in their underwear drawer and 20% in their wardrobe.
But these are some of the first places burglars look.
Chris Roberts, public relations manager for burglary prevention systems supplier Banham (@BanhamSecurity), suggests investing in a safe.
'Opportunist burglars will take small items that can be easily carried away,' he explains. 'If you get a safe, make sure it is fitted properly and secured to a solid foundation.'
4. 40% of UK homeowners have installed a burglar alarm, but a third of them often neglect to set the alarm when they leave.
'A burglar alarm is the best line of defence,' says Chris Roberts, 'but make sure it's fitted by a reputable company.'
Your installer should fit an alarm that meets the standards required by the police to send out a response unit. Research the websites of the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) and the Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board (SSAIB) for the details of reputable installers in your area.
5. People living in urban areas are more likely to be victims of property crime than those in rural parts.
'Having appropriate insurance is vital, as is knowing the stipulations the insurance may have when it comes to security,' he says. 'Policies may specify a minimum level of security required, while others may offer discounts if higher security is present and used.
'Your local MLA licensed locksmith will be able to advise you on how to upgrade your security where necessary.'
Use the MLA website to find a locksmith near you.
6. The majority of burglaries are opportunistic.
Be careful with what you leave lying around, says Graham Foux (@GrahamFoux), owner of Fox Security Solutions.
'Burglars are looking for quick money. They might have seen some jewellery, cash, an iPad or smartphone through the window and want to take their chances – so don't leave it out on show for them.'
7. In three out of 10 cases, burglars gain access through an open door or window.
Steffan George recommends making sure all your locks conform to industry standards.
'With uPVC doors, just lifting the handle only latches it. The key must be turned to lock the handle and therefore the entire locking mechanism.
'People should also consider whether the locks have ever been changed since they've moved into the property, and what conditions doors, windows, locks etc. are in.
'The best bet is to get a professional MLA licensed locksmith to perform a security survey – it's not something people should try and do themselves.'
8. There has been a drop in domestic burglaries, but a rise in break-ins to buildings that aren't connected to the home, such as a shed or garage.
'Locks, bars and bolts on sheds and outbuildings are a very good idea,' Chris Roberts explains. 'Sheds are very difficult to protect as most of them are wood, so don't keep anything too valuable in there.'
9. Burglars can steal cars from driveways, with some of more interest than others.
One way of preventing car theft, says Anthony Neary, managing director of online security products supplier Safe (@talkwithsafe), is by parking appropriately.
'If you have a garage or gated drive, try to keep your car locked away during darker hours or when you're not at home,' he advises. 'It's also important to keep keys out of easy reach of windows and letterboxes/cat flaps, to prevent a burglar from "fishing" for them.'
10. The number of dog thefts in England and Wales has increased by more than a fifth over the past two years.
By law, all dogs should be microchipped and their details kept up to date.
'We advise that tags do not carry your dog's name, as this makes it harder for the thief to form a relationship with your dog,' adds Niki Barlow, chairman of the charity Dog Theft Action (@DogTheftAction).
'Dogs should never be left alone or allowed to roam too far out of sight, whether this be in your own garden or while out on walks.'
11. Only 9% of property taken during burglaries is recovered.
Police are often thwarted by being unable to identify possessions. Neil Stewart, head of marketing at Recipero (@recipero), which operates property register Immobilise (@ImmobiliseCrime) and other tools to help reunite people with their possessions, recommends that you mark your stuff.
'Proactive pre-theft registration of possessions makes sure that property is easily identifiable, creating a clear crime deterrent,' he explains. 'Criminals don't want to be caught in possession of easily identified property.'
In short, taking just a few basic security measures will make your home and its contents a less attractive proposition for a potential burglar.
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