With the festive period fast approaching, Brits will begin shopping for gifts, decorating their houses and writing cards. However, they’re not the only ones gearing up for their busiest time of year – so are burglars.
During the winter dark hours and early sunsets, burglars have more time to rummage around a property with less risk of getting caught. According to LV= General Insurance (LV= GI), 67%1 of thefts claims reported last December were for home thefts, compared to 46% in the July. And with theft claims already up by 4% this year compared to last, there’s an even bigger risk of a holiday break-in.
On average, theft claims cost around £3,500 during the darker months of the year. Last December, bikes accounted for 45% of thefts, with audio and visual equipment at around 10% and tools at 9%.
LV= has joined forces with ex-burglar, Michael Fraser to provide tips on how to prevent a break-in this festive season.
- 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. Everyone knows that a pile of presents tells burglars there’s an opportunity to grab some potential goodies, but don’t forget to keep your stockings out of sight too. You can close your blinds 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 from 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!
Try to wrap presents individually and avoid gift bags. As most burglars will leave the scene of the crime on foot, this 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 left upstairs. Burglars don’t often go upstairs because they feel trapped and it’s much easier to get in and out when they stay downstairs.
- Keep your holiday plans a secret: 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. Keep them hidden under a bed until you set off for your trip. Also, check that 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, during the day it signals that there is an animal in that property, moving around without an alarm set, meaning there is an opportunity to enter without triggering any devices. Joining the local neighbourhood watch can be far more off putting to burglars as who knows who’s watching.
Michael Fraser adds: “December is a busy month for many of us as we find ourselves out of the house socialising with friends and families, often leaving our homes unoccupied for hours, and sometimes days. Whilst you should always ensure your doors are double locked, don’t open yourself up for potential burglary by leaving presents in view and Christmas cards building up in your letter box, as there are the types of things that burglars will be looking for.”Martin Milliner, Claims Director at LV= General Insurance, commented: “During the festive period, many people will have more gadgets and gifts in their house than usual. Burglars see this time of year as an opportunity, with darker evenings, more time spent away with family and gifts worth stealing. From hiding your calendar to destroying your card’s envelopes, it’s important to take precautions to protect our homes this festive period, as the trauma of having your home broken into and having items stolen can be very difficult. And in case a burglary does take place, we increase our customers contents limit cover by 10% during holidays to make sure presents are protected, providing peace of mind to families.”