While statistics show that many burglars take a day off on Christmas Day, when break-ins fall dramatically, thieves are certainly active for the rest of the festive season.
Many of the crimes are opportunistic, rather than carefully planned, and so homes that are left empty when the inhabitants are working, on holiday or visiting friends and family, can present as ideal for burglars, who have the added advantage of having cover of darkness from 4pm. With that in mind, here is some advice on how to protect your home this Christmas and beyond.
*Do not leave Christmas presents under the tree where they are visible through windows/patio doors as this can be a tempting shopping opportunity for thieves. Do not be tempted to run cables for outdoor lights through partially open windows.
*We have reached peak parcel delivery time and specifying a “safe place” for the delivery driver to leave your goods can be risky, especially if that safe place is the doorstep or anywhere visible. Opportunist thieves are having a field day and if you have specified a safe place and the parcel goes missing, you may not be compensated for it. If possible have your goods delivered to a relative or friend who will be in to take delivery.
*If you are going away over the festive period, even just for a night or a couple of nights, Police.UK suggest you make your home look like someone is living in it. You should use automatic timer switches to turn your lamps and radios on when it goes dark. Cancel any newspaper or milk deliveries and, if going away for a longer length of time, use the Royal Mail’s keepsafe service, which will keep your mail for up to two months while you’re away. You can also ask trusted neighbours to open and close your curtains or even park a car on your driveway.
*While it’s tempting to share your festive pictures on social media, avoid posting anything that suggests you are on holiday or away from your home as burglars can use the information to their advantage.
*Homes with no security measures in place are five times more likely to be burgled than those with simple security measures, according to Police.UK, so good window locks and strong deadlocks on doors are deterrents. If you have sash windows, invest in sash locks. Do not leave any keys in locks as glass can be smashed, keys taken and then used to open doors or windows to gain entry.
*Criminals break into the house or flat through the door, either by forcing the lock or kicking it in. So make sure your doors are strong and secure. Consider fitting a bar for extra strength; a locksmith can advise you on how best to do it. For Master Locksmiths Association approved locksmiths visit www.locksmiths.co.uk
*Glass panels on doors are particularly vulnerable. If you have one on your front or back door you could replace it with laminated glass, which is stronger. You can also buy an anti-shatter film that you can stick over the glass to make it harder to break. Purlfrost.com sell it as do other suppliers.
*It has been proven that homes with security systems are 300 per cent less likely to be burgled than those without. Think about investing in a visible burglar alarm and CCTV system as they have never been easier to install. Experts are helpful but you can DIY, if you feel able. Security systems with alarms and with indoor and outdoor cameras that will record video when motion or sound is detected are best. Do your homework on ratings and ensure picture clarity is good.
*Don’t forget the garage and outbuildings if you have valuable items in there. You can buy a bespoke shed/garage alarm or an inexpensive, battery operated shed alarm. Anything that makes a loud noise will send a thief running, say Police.UK. Good outside, motion sensitive lighting can also be very helpful as no burglar enjoys being in the spotlight.
*Keep ladders, spades and tools stored away. Don’t leave them easily accessible outdoors where they could be used to break into your home and don’t forget to secure those sheds and outhouses with locks.
*Make sure to check your home insurance documents to ensure your cover is adequate and up to date. Police.UK advises that it helps to mark valuables with your postcode and lodge a description and photographs with www.immobilise.com. Immobilise.com is the world’s largest free register of possession-ownership details and, together with its sister sites the Police’s NMPR and CheckMEND, forms a very effective tool in helping to reduce crime and repatriate recovered personal property to its rightful owners. Immobilise can be used by members of the public and businesses. All account holders’ registered items and ownership details are viewable by the police on the Police national property database, the National Mobile Property Register.