Lessons learned from Kevin McCallister: Home Alone's insurance dos and don'ts

'This is my house, I have to defend it'

5 minutes

Home Alone is the quintessential festive film. Family, freedom, heart and hijinks – it's got everything.

The iconic 90s flick also features some clever theft-prevention tactics from hero Kevin McCallister. But which of his actions protected his home from the baddies, and which did more harm than good?

Secure those cat flaps!

  • Clever traps can't replace locks when it comes to security
  • Why Mr McCallister is right to think about his open garage
  • Make an effort not to alienate your neighbours

Not all of Kevin's traps are a good idea

Do secure all doors and windows

If you have the keys to the kingdom, you're not about to let anyone else in, right? Not in the case of Kevin, who doesn't secure the house until he sees would-be thieves Harry and Marv acting suspiciously outside. Even then, he doesn't close the garage – which his father remembered leaving open - before realising he'd left his son at home.

According to police, homes with no security measures in place are five times more likely to be burgled than those with simple security measures - so make sure you lock all doors and windows, even those to your garden shed.

Kevin also doesn't lock up the cat flap in the kitchen door. Cat flaps on exterior doors often provide thieves with an opportunity to get inside – especially if you leave your keys in the lock. 

However, once Harry and Marv realise that Kevin is the only one home, the youngster decides to trust his traps to keep the criminals out, leaving the back doors and living room window wide open. Kevin's traps only partially work - without the timely intervention of Old Man Marley, things would have been far worse for him. The moral of the story: lock your doors.


Don't climb the shelves

Who hasn't dreamed of having the house to themselves, especially at the most magical time of year? Kevin's first act is to rifle through his family members' belongings, scaling his brother Buzz's shelves in an effort to reach the money at the top.

The shelves are full enough as it is, so adding Kevin's weight puts them under more strain than they can manage, as you find out later on in the film.

If you're planning on stylishly displaying Christmas lights (or searching for hidden presents), perhaps clambering up the fixtures and fittings is not the best way to put them up.


Do make your house seem occupied

The McCallisters have automatic timers on their lights, but it takes burglar Harry only a few minutes to work out the pattern. So it's left to Kevin to fill the empty home with life. 

When Marv tries to check if anyone's home, Kevin's flicks on film noir Angels With Filthy Souls – a movie scene made specifically for Home Alone. As the sound comes on, the lead character fires off a few rounds of dialogue and then a few rounds from his Tommy gun. Kevin also sets off some fireworks to add to the racket. Marv, scared out of his wits, scarpers.

Harry and Marv return later that night, so Kevin uses cardboard cut-outs and mannequins to make the house appear full of life.

Making it seem as though someone is in when you're away, especially during the Christmas holidays, is a wise idea. Lights with timer sockets would deter most burglars – just make sure their pattern isn't too obvious. Think about how you behave in your home and set your timers to mimic this.

You could also invest in some home security technology, like the Response Fake TV, which uses LEDs to make it appear as though a television is on in your home. Read our article on home security inventions for more security ideas.


Don't leave personal belongings on show

When we see Harry and Marv break into Kevin's neighbours' house, all the Christmas presents are sitting unopened in full view of the window. Unsurprisingly, the thieves start unwrapping.

Before you head off on your travels, make sure anything you want to keep safe is hidden somewhere secure. Burglars may be deterred if they peer through a window only to see heavy furniture and appliances.

Take extra care with keys near the front door. If you leave your car keys in a bowl or on a hook in the hallway, hide them somewhere safer – otherwise, you might lose your car as well as your belongings.


Do turn your water off at the mains

Whereas Harry is all about playing the game, Marv fancies himself as a headline-grabbing criminal. In an effort to make the front page, the thief turns on all the taps to flood the houses he and Harry burgle.

If Kevin's neighbours had turned their water off at the mains, the wet bandits wouldn't have been able to live up to their name quite so easily.

Before you jet off on holiday, consider shutting the main water off to reduce the risk of a leak or a flood. And if not, set your thermostat so that the water in your system doesn't freeze and damage the pipework over the winter months.


Don't be scared of your neighbour

Thanks to brother Buzz's tale at the start of the film, Kevin is terrified of the McCallister's neighbour Old Man Marley.

Thankfully, the two become firm friends before the film's climax, and Old Man Marley turns up in the nick of time to save Kevin by giving Harry and Marv a taste of his snow shovel.

Find out if Neighbourhood Watch operates in your area and, whether they do or not, notify your neighbours when you go away. Leave your contact details with them so they can call if they see anything suspicious.


Do call the police

It almost goes without saying: if you think you are being (or have been) burgled, call the police straight away.

Kevin has a more imaginative plan, calling the police to a neighbour's home that Harry and Marv have already broken into.

In fact, it's their presence in the home, which Marv left flooded, that helps the police convict them.

So, to break it down, if you go on holiday this winter, lock all your doors, set up some timed lights and, whatever you do, don't leave your eight-year-old son alone in the house over the festive season – if you do, a home insurance claim won't be the worst of your problems.

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