How to keep your home safe and secure this Christmas

As the north wind blows and presents begin to pile up underneath the Christmas tree, there is extra need to be vigilant against thieves.The festive period can be a bonanza for burglars so it pays to take precautions. According to Police UK, homes with no security measures in place are five times more likely to be burgled thank those with simple security measures, such as strong deadlocks on doors and window locks.Police UK also suggest the following:*Hide all keys, including car keys, out of sight and away from the letterbox. A device could be used to hook keys through the letterbox.*Secure bikes by locking them to an immovable object inside a locked shed or garage.*Improve natural surveillance at the front of your property i.e. trim high hedges and have good outside lighting.*Keep ladders and tools stored away; don’t leave them outside where they could be used to break into your home.*Mark your valuables with your postcode and house number. Register your postcode marked valuables for free at www.immobilise.com, which will increase your chances of getting them back if they are recovered by the police.*If you are going away over the festive period, cancel any newspaper or milk deliveries and 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 and even park a car on your driveway.Many of the thefts committed over the festive period are opportunistic, rather than carefully planned.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Here is some more good advice from The Master Locksmiths Association:*Give the impression someone is in. The majority of break-ins are opportunistic and committed by burglars who live nearby. Thieves are on the lookout for easy targets and will notice if your house is the only one on the street with no Christmas lights twinkling in the windows, or where there has been no activity. Investing in timer plugs for your lights will make burglars think twice before trying their luck on your home.*If you are planning to light up the garden with festive lights and an inflatable Father Christmas make sure you use or install outdoor electrical sockets and, whatever you do, do not be tempted to run cables through partially open windows or doors – this is an open invitation to thieves to break in and help themselves.*Hide the presents. Dressing the tree and decorating your home at Christmas may get you in the festive spirit but it can also invite unwanted attention. While most of us love nothing more than showing our decorating prowess by placing wrapped presents underneath the tree, thieves could be tempted to break in and take them. Make sure you don’t put too much on display for prying eyes. In the run-up to Christmas, consider keeping presents hidden away to ensure they cannot be seen through the window. On Christmas Eve when stockings are filled and hung on bedposts lock all doors and windows so the only access into the house is by magic down the chimney.*Be careful what information you share online. With many people visiting friends and family over the festive period, it’s easy to get excited and tell the world via social media, exactly what you are doing and where you are going. This also reveals that your house and all its contents will be left unattended. Increasingly, thieves are using social media to identify their next targets. Always be mindful with your posts and, if you are sharing festive snaps, be sure your social media settings are set to private.

*Invest in home security. Home security and CCTV systems have never been easier or more discreet to install, with many systems allowing you to login via your smartphone from wherever you are in the world. It has also been proven that homes with security systems are 300 per cent less likely to be burgled than those without. A local MLA-approved security expert can advise you on the best equipment available on the market and on what is most suitable for your home.

*Check your home security in the run-up to Christmas. It’s important to review your home security and your home insurance to ensure everything is in working order and that you are covered for every eventuality before the festive season begins.*Ensure that all locks on doors and windows are correctly fitted and functioning and replace any that are broken. Statistics show that 30 per cent of burglars enter homes through an unlocked window or door so it’s also worth reminding family members to check everything has been locked before leaving the house and before going to sleep at night. If in doubt, contact your local MLA-approved locksmith who can check your locks and give you advice on bespoke security solutions for your property and help with installation. Many will also carry out an initial security assessment free of charge. www.locksmiths.co.uk