- There's no substitute for a visible, working burglar alarm
- Lock your doors and windows, even when you're in the garden
- Why it's worth getting to know the neighbours
1. Get a working burglar alarm
First and foremost, if you don't have an alarm, get one installed. The Metropolitan Police recommend using a reputable company approved by either of the two industry bodies: the National Security Inspectorate and the Security Systems & Alarms Inspection Board.
'There's no substitute for a visible burglar alarm,' says security pro Andy (@bsc_secure), the former head of corporate security with Virgin Atlantic, with experience working for HM Customs, British Transport Police and the National Criminal Intelligence Service.
'Also make sure your alarm is working - dummy cameras and alarms won't put off professional burglars,' he adds.
2. Lock up throughout
As the warmer weather arrives, you may be out of the habit of checking that your doors and windows are closed and locked before heading out. The police advise locking them every time you leave the house - even when you're just out in the garden.
Have you been using your shed or conservatory for the first time in a while?' asks Andy. 'Get into the habit of locking up these areas too. And, if you don't take them with you, put the keys in a safe place out of sight.'
Also, make sure you don't leave any tools out that potential burglars could use.
'Don't forget to lock away garden and DIY tools, especially ladders,' advises Andy.
3. Cancel any unnecessary deliveries
You might be considering a longer break for the Easter holidays. If so, be sure to plan for deliveries, such as post and newspapers.
Cancel milk, newspaper and grocery deliveries, and keep these discussions discreet,' says Andy. 'It's sensible to leave emergency contact details, a spare key and your alarm PIN with a neighbour, friend or family member,' he adds. 'Consider using the Royal Mail's Keepsafe service, which will ensure that your mail is safely stored for up to 66 days until you return.'
4. Install lights and cameras
'Smart cameras are useful for keeping an eye on your home,' says Andy. 'These days you can connect them to your smartphone, tablet or PC, and view a live stream of your house from wherever you are.'
While cameras will help you keep an eye on your property, outside lights could put burglars off.
'The days might be getting longer, but don't forget that spring evenings aren't as light as in summer, so install good outside lighting - burglars hate it,' says Andy.
It's also worth considering using a timer or sensor to control indoor lights; recent research found that households without this technology are more likely to be burgled.
5. Don't post your plans on social media
When the holiday bug bites, and particularly if it's been a while since you went away, it's tempting to humble-brag about your travel plans with all and sundry on social media. But, Andy warns, this could be asking for trouble.
'Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can provide useful 'intelligence' to burglars seeking new targets,' he says. 'Posts such as 'off to the sun for the Easter weekend' may result in some unwelcome attention.'
6. Keep your valuables out of sight
The Metropolitan Police say that it's a good idea to lock away any valuables in a home safe that's hidden from view. The best safes have bolts that you can attach to the house in a concealed area.
'Don't be tempted to hide valuables in your sock drawer, dresser drawers, the bedside table or medicine chests - these are the first places burglars will look!' says Andy.
The Metropolitan Police also advise never leaving car documents or IDs in obvious places such as kitchens or hallways, and to always put keys out of reach of the letterbox.
7. Get a doggy deterrent
'In my experience, dogs are good deterrents against burglars,' says Blackwell. 'A dog bowl visible on your premises and 'beware of the dog' signs may unsettle a burglar - regardless of whether you have a dog or not!
'If you want to go one step further, you can buy CDs that play barking and growling sounds at random intervals and on a loop. Some people have found these products useful,' he continues.
8. Enlist your neighbours' help
If you're going away for Easter but not driving, lock your vehicle in your garage and ask a neighbour to park their car on your driveway, even if it's only now and again,' advises Blackwell. 'Ask them to water flowers in your hanging basket, and take care of an overgrown lawn or shrubs - these are considerations as spring sets in.'
This will help give your home the appearance of being lived in, even if you're only away for a few days.
'Also, your neighbour could ensure your bin is put out on the correct day - anything to give the impression that you're at home,' adds Andy. 'There's an added advantage to getting to know people around you, as they're more likely to keep an eye out for you.'
You may wish to get involved with Neighbourhood Watch. In recent years, this has evolved from local schemes into a wider national network. Head to ourwatch.org.uk to search your area. You can also view a snapshot of local crime statistics.