Tips to keep your home safe from thieves over the holidays
While we normally reserve the blog for hints and tips on common property problems of damp and rot, we thought we would take the opportunity to highlight a too often property problem during the festive season. As we begin to wind down for the Christmas break and spend well-earned time with friends and family, the festive season becomes the perfect season for burglaries to occur, and shockingly they happen more often than you think.
During the Christmas holidays, the UK traditionally sees an increase in home burglaries with opportunists targeting unsuspected homeowners with expensive gifts under the tree or who are away visiting family. This surge isn’t new, one in ten Brits revealed they had friends or family that have experienced being burglared and as the dark nights began to roll in, there has been a surge in crime and break-ins with a 30% increase since the clocks going back.
During this holiday season, don’t put your home or valuables at risk. There are a number of things you can tick off your list to keep your home safe;
It may seem obvious but don’t leave your doors unlocked or windows open when you are out for extended periods. We would usually suggest opening your windows as a solution to improve the ventilation in your property and prevent outbreaks of condensation and black mould, particularly at this time of year when the heating is on full blast, but you can still do that when you are at home.
Many homeowners focus on high-tech security systems and devices to monitor their home when they are away but forget the fundamental basics, like leaving the spare key under the doormat. Be sensible and aware, don’t let it be easy for them to slip through an open window or unlock the door.
2. Ask a trusted neighbour to pop round.
If you are planning on going away over the holidays, make sure your trusted neighbours or friends are aware. Not only can they keep an eye on any unusual activity, but they can pop round to check your house hasn’t suffered from frozen or burst water pipes if you are away.
Having your neighbours and friends aware gives you the peace of mind that should they spot someone lurking around your home, they can deter any would-be burglars and alert the police of any suspicious activity.
3. Make your property less valuable to thieves
Prevent any would be criminals by ensuring your valuables (laptops, watches, jewellery) or presents left under the Christmas tree are stored away in a safe place and not left out in the open especially if they are visible from the outside. Thieves often check if someone is home before attempting any theft and spotting a brand new laptop lying on the kitchen counter or money left out on the hall table is one way to entice.
4. Make your home looked lived in
Burglars will often investigate a property for signs of life before breaking in, but one way to discourage potential break-ins is by making your home looked lived-in even when you are away, we have a few tips to help you on your way.
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Many sophisticated burglaries may not even need to check if a home is empty before breaking in. If your home has your family name outside, a burglar can quickly look up your address through a telephone directory and call to see if anyone is home.
Setting up a voicemail to say you are away for a couple of days can give thieves the perfect opportunity especially if they know they have time to gather all your belongings. Our top tip, many landline providers, now give you the option to redirect your landline calls to your mobile.
Leaving the light on
It may be a simple but having a light on in the living room or hall can deter burglars from breaking in. In a recent survey, many homeowners used lighting as their primary form of stopping potential burglaries over the Christmas period last year.
Many stores now stock inexpensive timed light switches that can be set to turn on at night and off during the day while motion-controlled outdoor lighting can easily be installed at the front or back of your property but be wary of the neighbourhood cat cutting across your garden in the middle of the night.
A cost-effective alternative – ask a neighbour to pop round to turn on and off indoor or outdoor lights.
Taking out the bins
Thieves may often check if you have put a bin out to be collected, an empty bin could mean you are out or have been away for a few days at a time. Be a friendly neighbour by offering your neighbours the use of your bin for all their excesses rubbish while you are out of town – they will probably be grateful with the offer over the Christmas holidays.
Mail and Deliveries
Avoid giving away you are out by making sure your mail isn’t visible. Ask a neighbour to pop round to move mail or your local post office may be able to hold on to your letters while you away for a small fee. Don’t forget to cancel any newspaper subscriptions or milk deliveries.
Park your car in the drive
Having a car parked in your driveway can make it look like someone is home when you aren’t. Ask your neighbour if they would mind parking in your drive or offering the use of your drive if they have guests over for Christmas.
Posting on social media
We’ve all been there, you are excited to post you are visiting relatives out of town for Christmas, but tweeting and sharing your activities can alert thieves. We aren’t saying you shouldn’t post on social media, but be aware of other people’s motives.
5. Alarm system – does it work?
Having an alarm system installed can give extra peace of mind that your home is secured for any time you are away from the house. Check with the alarm provider that your alarm is fully functioning.
Tips when you are staying a home
Even if you are staying at home over the festive seasons, break-ins can still occur especially for elderly homeowners. If you have an elderly relative make sure they are vigilant of unusual behaviour, people hanging around or loitering outside. Lock any doors, close the windows at night, and not to open the door to anyone you aren’t expecting especially for people who are acting strangely.
If you would like more practical tips for protecting your home in winter why not get in touch with Rentokil Property Care. Give us a call on 0800 0121 437 or contact us online for someone to get back you.
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