It’s not just the Grinch who wants to steal Christmas – the months between October and January are the most common for burglaries.
Not only do the darker evenings create cover for thieves to go unseen, it’s also when we’re more likely to have high value items in our homes and leave them unattended for festive celebrations.
Nearly half of Brits close blinds and curtains or leave lights on while we’re out to try to deter burglars. They also found that 18% ask friends and family to check their door is locked, while 16% leave the TV or radio on so it looks like someone is in.
But these methods don’t always work.
Former burglar and home security expert Michael Fraser, who has featured on BBC’s Beat The Burglar, has revealed the most common home security errors we’re making, along with little-known tips to ensure you home stays safe.
In today’s age a burglary can be done by an opportunist, not just a professional. Most burglars will be able to enter a property within three minutes, so when they are passing by and spot a home which is visibly empty, it can be very easy for them to access it without anyone noticing.
This is why you should install an alarm but also make sure it works.
Of the 43% of households that do have a security alarm installed, 18% don’t turn it on when they leave the home, either because it doesn’t work, they don’t know how to use it, they find pets and children setting it off a nuisance, or they only turn it on when they go on holiday.
I would also strongly recommend purchasing an alarm that can be split between certain parts of the home, so that households with two floors can set an overnight alarm for the downstairs area.
Some brazen burglars will break in at night time even knowing the homeowner is in but will not want to end up in a confrontation. Putting an alarm on downstairs will notify you of any suspicious activity and deter the burglar from entering.
Leaving the alarm box dirty can be a signal to burglars too, showing it isn’t being serviced or used, so give it a wipe down every so often.
The back of the home
Most people often only consider what the front of the home looks like to burglars but forget about the back.
Over Christmas, your present-covered tree could be especially attractive to opportunistic thieves, so it’s advised to ensure windows and doors at the rear of the property are obscured, moving valuable items away from the line of vision.
Additionally, you may want to keep your family calendar away from the eyes of potential burglars.
While a physical calendar may appear harmless, if it is visible from the window then burglars may use it to figure out what days and times the home will be left unattended.
I would always recommend closing the calendar when leaving, or at least moving it out of sight.
It isn’t just physical items burglars can nab – they may be looking to steal your identity.
The first thing burglars will do is look through a person’s wheelie bin, as they may be able to find documents or advertisements with the homeowner’s name on it and use it to claim their identity.
Households must ensure they shred or cut up all documents they throw away.
Cylinder locks on doors appeal more to burglars as they don’t hold very well, making your home seem like an easy target.
A deadlock is much stronger, more robust, and will make burglars less confident about attempting a break in.
Beware of the dog signs
One of the most common tips often given to households is putting up a ‘beware of the dog’ sign, however this provides more reason for burglars to attempt a break in.
When burglars see this sign, they immediately believe the home may have a pet flap and a weakened point of entry.
Another thing many homeowners do (around a third according to Toolstation, which carried out the research) is leave a spare key near the front door.
If you leave a key outside your home it is bound to be found. Burglars will be aware of all the common hiding spots and look for hints within the area, such as fresh soil in a certain spot compared to the rest of the lawn, or a pot which has slightly moved from its ring stain.
Avoid running the risk of a robbery and leave it with someone you trust instead.
Advertising you’re going to be away is a big no-no, either in person to people you don’t know or to your wider network online.
If travelling to the airport by taxi, order it to arrive down the road and don’t provide any information on where you are travelling abroad to.
With such a strong social media presence today, it is very easy for burglars to find out people’s locations, so try not to post any holiday snaps until after the trip is complete.
Parcels and packaging
With Christmas on the way, it’s wise to be careful of what burglars can spot outside your home.
Most burglars are constantly trying to identify weaknesses and mistakes households have made such as leaving new TV packaging by the outside bins or a parcel being left outside the front door.
Smart security tools are among the best methods to keep burglars at bay. If you’ve had a break-in before, this makes you extra vulnerable to it happening again, so upgrading with gadgets that show would-be thieves you’re watching and allow you to instantly respond to suspicious activity may give you peace of mind.
By setting up a smart security system, burglars will be deterred from the home as they know the property is guarded. So, the software not only keeps the home secure, but also advertises the fact that you are well set up.
The consultant and motivational speaker suggests going for an option that includes two-way audio communication, remote control, and movement-activated floodlights for an all-round approach to safeguarding your home.
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