Burglary prevention at Christmas

The build up to Christmas can be both exciting and stressful but imagine coming home one day and finding your property broken into and all the gifts you have bought or received gone.
The festive period is a prime time for burglars with properties being stocked with new unopened items of high value that are easier to sell on in their new and boxed condition, it is also a time when more people leave their homes unattended than usual to go on Christmas parties or to visit friends and relatives.
Opportunist thieves don’t need much to feel presented with a chance to steal and the season of goodwill can also be a time where people are more relaxed and don’t take the same security measures they may take when they go on holiday.

Most insurance policies will have an automatic uplift for contents of 10% for the Christmas period (we do here at Highhouse Insurance), if this is not the case, please ensure that your contents insurance is sufficient for your requirements. If they are not, then ensure that you contact your insurance to increase the sum insured as necessary.

Burglary prevention at Christmas

We have put together is a brief guide on various measures and general advice to help prevent your property from becoming a target.

Don’t leave gifts on display
Nothing feels more like Christmas than looking at a nicely decorated tree full of presents underneath. However having gifts on show, particularly in view from a window is also attractive to thieves. If possible hide all gifts until the day of opening and be equally stringent after they have been open. If you are going out or going away don’t leave them on show.

Festive outdoor lighting
Outdoor Christmas lights can act as a deterrent like any other outdoor lighting but can pose a potential risk if they are mains operated and need to be plugged in through a window. When possible buy lights where not only the lights are suitable for outdoor use but also the transformer or plug, then connect to an outdoor mains. Alternatively there are a large range of battery or solar outdoor lights available and have come on leaps and bounds since their first generation attempts.

Don’t publicly display any packaging
Councils these days are much tighter on rubbish and recyclable waste and some don’t allow you to put rubbish out beyond what will fit in the plastic bins or bags provided so the visibility of rubbish and recyclable goods isn’t as generally noticeable these days. However just after Christmas they generally are more relaxed and bins are overflowing, be careful not to display packaging, only put extra bags or boxes out on the day of collection or night before and when possible take what you can to a recycling centre. Don’t give potential thieves an idea of what they might find in your house.

The Christmas tree looks lovely by the window
A classic place for a beautifully lit Christmas tree is by a window with the curtains or blinds open so it can be visible to passers by and while I don’t want to destroy the spirit of Christmas it is also worth pointing out that not only the tree may be visible especially in the evening when the room is fully lit and the curtains aren’t drawn. The tree will also succeed in grabbing the attention of almost anyone that passes by so be careful in what else is visible should you decide to place it by a window especially when you are out.

Take basic home security measures.
This may appear in every article to do with home security but ensuring you have minimum securities in place where possible can never be understated. A third of burglars enter a property through a window so all ground floor and accessible windows should have key operated security locks which are kept shut and locked when the property is left empty.
Two thirds of burglars enter a property through a door so it is important to do what you can to make them as secure as possible. The minimum security standard for most home insurance requirements is having 5 Lever Mortice Deadlocks but additional security measures include fitting mortise bolts to the tops and bottoms of doors, fitting chains or bars and if the door has a window or glass panels then these can be replaced with either laminated glass or a special film over the existing glass which does a similar job.

Ensure all outbuildings and sheds are locked securely and that no ladders, steps, or outdoor seating that can be easily moved is readily accessible to aid thieves

Don’t leave spare keys in obvious places such as under a doormat, nearby plant pot, loose brick or rock, under the tyre of a second car and so on. Leave with either a trusted neighbour or friend and don’t leave any keys indoors in bowls, hanging up or visible from an external viewpoint such as through a letterbox.

Motion Sensor lighting and spotlights are very good for lighting areas of your property that would have very little lighting otherwise and can act as a great deterrent to potential burglars. Most have adjustable detection ranges so you can change them to only switch on when someone comes on your boundary and not just walks past.

Be wary of the pitfalls to using social media
We posted an article a few weeks back on thieves using social media sites to target victims, by using information they have made public such as being away on holiday leaving their property vacant. Christmas is no different and people should be wary of posting information when they are visiting friends and family especially when they share their location whilst posting, its best to do this post dated after you have returned home. It is also not a good idea to go showing off all the new presents you have on social media and keep an eye on what information your children are sharing.

Should you require home insurance or any other type of property insurance today or at some point in the future and would like a free quote then please feel free to contact us by either selecting the appropriate insurance or calling us directly on 01243 606552.

Sources
Home security guide, city of London police, HSL02- produced by the Home Office Communication Directorate, January 2004