When you think of festive films, Home Alone springs to mind, right? Well, we could learn a trick or two from Kevin McCallister when it comes to keeping our homes safe...
- Clever traps can't compete with locks when it comes to security
- Why Kevin was right to think about his open garage
- Make an effort to communicate with your neighbours
Before we get into it, there's something you should know...
If your home contents insurance is with LV=, your cover automatically increases by 10% over the festive period to protect all the extra stuff you've got at home. So, your pile of presents, gifted gadgets and divine decorations are all protected. Consider it a gift from us to you.
DO secure all windows and doors
One of Kevin's biggest mistakes was not securing the house until he saw would-be thieves Harry and Marv acting suspiciously outside... and even then, he doesn't close the garage (which his dad left wide open!).
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 and garage.
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.
Once Harry and Marv realise that Kevin is the only one home, the youngster has to trust his traps to keep the criminals out, but by leaving the back doors and living room window wide open, Kevin's traps only partially work. The moral of the story: lock your windows and doors! Simple but effective.
DON'T climb the shelves
Who hasn't dreamed of having the house to themselves? A bit of peace and quiet would be lovely around the chaos of Christmas... but Kevin's first act is to rifle through his family's belongings, including 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...neither is standing on that dodgy chair in the kitchen. So, check out our guide on how to decorate your home safely for the festive period.
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 and realise that nobody is actually home. So it's left to Kevin to fill the empty home with life and make it seem like the house is full of people, using cardboard cutouts and mannequins!
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 – but 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 smart security ideas. This tech is brilliant for improving your home security while you're away, but we should be conscious about how to do it in an eco-friendly way. So, we've put together a little guide for you on how to have an eco-friendly Christmas.
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 for any passers by to spy. Unsurprisingly, the thieves start unwrapping.
So, before you head off on your festive travels or set off on a roadtrip to see family and friends, 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 too. 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. Not only that, but with the increase of keyless car technology, comes an increase in keyless car thefts. So, to protect your home and car, don't leave your keys by the door.
DO turn your water off at the mains
While Harry is all about playing the game, Marv fancies himself as a headline-grabbing hard criminal. So, 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. So, before you go away for festivities and fun, consider shutting the main water off to reduce the risk of a leak or a flood.
You could also set your thermostat so that the water in your system doesn't freeze and damage the pipework over the winter months. Here's everything you need to know about preparing your home for winter.
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.. but he didn't need to be! Thankfully, the two become firm friends, and Old Man Marley turns up just in the nick of time to save Kevin from baddies Harry and Marv.
So, what can we learn from this? Well firstly, it's worth finding out if any Neighbourhood Watch operates in your area, it may not be the old school curtain twitching, but perhaps there's a group chat for your road which you can be a part of to keep up to date with local goings on. It's also a good idea to let a trusted neighbour know when you go away. You could leave your contact details with them so they can call if they see anything suspicious.
DO call the police
Although Kevin calls the police to a neighbour's home that Harry and Marv have already broken into, it goes without saying that if you think you're being (or have been) burgled, make sure you're safe and then call the police straight away. Once you've called the police, you'll want to call your home insurance provider to make a claim.
How else can you keep Christmas safe?
Check out our guide to a safe Christmas to find out more about all of this...
Should I hide my presents?
Does posting online affect my home security?
How do I secure my home?
Is there a way to mark my belongings?
How can I stop people noticing my house is empty?
Who should I let into my home?
Can I insure my Christmas presents?
How can I decorate my home safely?
So, to break it down, if you go away this winter, lock all your doors, set up some timed lights and, whatever you do, don't leave your eight-year-old son home alone! Now, go and enjoy the festivities... we all deserve a few extra mince pies and mulled wines after this year.
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