Festive season is in full swing! From gifts, to decorations, and all the ‘which side of the family are we seeing?’ arguments in between. But you’re not the only one gearing up for the busiest time of year - so are burglars…
According to research conducted by LV=, 67% of theft claims reported last December were for home thefts, compared to 46% in July. With home claims already up by 4% this year compared to last, there’s an even bigger risk of a festive break-in, especially as the evenings and afternoons get darker.
According to the Metropolitan Police, burglars are aware of the times when someone is expected to be away from their house, such as school holidays - meaning that if you’re taking a holiday or visiting family this Christmas, your home could be at risk. With the Office for National Statistics reporting that on average a burglar will cause £1,413 worth of damage to your property, and if the burglar gains entry, the total cost amounts to £2,856 on average - it’s important you make sure your home is protected.
But, we’ve got you covered. There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of burglary and secure your home when you’re away. We’ve teamed up with Michael Fraser, a well-known TV anti-theft advocate who works with the Police to keep people safe from burglaries, to provide tips on how to prevent a break-in this festive season…
How can I protect my home from a burglary?
- Don’t let Christmas cards catch you out: At Christmas, we’re used to receiving more post than usual as our friends and family send festive cards. But by throwing your envelopes into the bin, burglars could easily access your name and address from a quick rummage. If they manage to get their hands on these details, they can clone your identity. Make sure to tear up and destroy all envelopes and packaging before throwing them away.
- Out of sight, out of mind: Make sure your presents aren’t in view from a window. A pile of presents tells a burglar there’s an opportunity to grab some potential goodies – remember to keep your stockings out of sight too. Do what you can to keep gifts out of sight. If you have slatted blinds, you can tilt them upwards, rather than downwards, to prevent people peering in.
- Protect your presents: Wrap your presents as soon as you’ve bought them to stop people knowing what’s inside. Unwrapped presents are far more likely to be stolen in a burglary, as they can instantly tell the value. Thieves don’t have time to unwrap gifts to find out what’s inside, and according to Michael Fraser, burglars are lazy! So, try to wrap presents individually. Michael also suggests avoiding gift bags, this is because most burglars will leave the scene of the crime on foot, so without gift bags, it will make it harder for them to carry lots of gifts away at once. After all, burglars can only take what they can carry.
On the day, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the festivities and leave gifts piled up downstairs by the tree after everyone has finished unwrapping them, but they’re much safer upstairs. Burglars don’t often go upstairs because they feel trapped - it’s much easier to get in and out when they stay downstairs. So, make it difficult for a would-be burglar and keep all gifts upstairs.
- Keep your plans close to your chest: Make sure you don’t leave bags and suitcases in view - it’s an obvious sign you’re going away and that the house will be empty. Michael Fraser suggests keeping them hidden under a bed or out of view until you set off for your trip. Also, make sure your calendar isn’t readable for outsiders looking in. If in view, burglars can find out the exact dates you’re going to be away from home.
- Signs that will put a burglar off: Many people think that having a sign that says ‘beware of the dog’ outside their door will ward off burglars. Instead, it signals that there’s an animal in that property, moving around, meaning there’s an opportunity to enter without triggering any sensor alarms or devices. Joining the local neighbourhood watch can be far more off putting to burglars, because who knows who’s watching…
Heading away for the holidays…
Here are some additional tips from the team here at LV=, to make sure your home is safe when you’re not around.
- Keep personal belongings locked away - it’s always a good idea to keep your expensive jewellery and valuables locked away when you’re away, but burglars are also interested in your car and personal identity data.
- Utilise smart devices and technology - there are many ways to make your home look more ‘lived-in’ while you’re away. Many smart home devices will allow you to control a number of features in your home at the touch of a button - from wherever in the world you are, including lights and stereo systems. Find out more from our savvy homeowner's guide to smart tech.
- Get an alarm - It’ll come as no surprise that security alarms are a great way to deter thieves. Often, burglar alarms are clearly labelled and have flashing lights that warn tempted burglars there are security systems in place on this property.
- Cancel deliveries - If you have regular milk or newspaper deliveries, make sure you remember to cancel them before you go away. A stack of untouched milk bottles and newspapers is a good indication to a burglar that a house has been left empty for some time.
- Check your locks - It may sound obvious, but make sure you check your locks before you head off… that’s all of them! Doors, windows, cars and sheds. Looking for extra protection? Invest in anti-snap locks, which can’t easily be broken by buglars trying to gain entry to your home.
- Parking - If you’re planning on driving to your destination, it might be worth getting a friend, family member or neighbour to park their car on your drive. This can make the house appear more “lived-in” to any spying burglar.
- Social media - We all love to share our holiday snaps on social media, but it’s important to be mindful of your posting as it could identify you as being away from home.
Our final thoughts…
The best way to protect your home and your valuables is by having an adequate and up-to-date home insurance policy that covers your property and its contents. If you’re insured with LV=, your contents cover increases by 10% for the month leading up to, and the month that follows Christmas… result!
And remember, if you’re planning to take a long trip this festive season, some insurance policies may only cover your home being left empty for up to 30 days at a time (or sometimes 60). So, before you make your plans, check with your insurance provider that you’re still covered if a break-in occurs while you’re away.
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