Whilst most see the festive period as a time for goodwill to all men, unfortunately – as anyone who has watched ‘Home Alone’ will know – thieves don’t take annual leave. In fact, long winter nights, festive distractions and busier social calendars can offer burglars more opportunities than any other time of year.
Luckily, there are lots of precautions you can take, without going to the same lengths as Kevin McCallister.
1. Light up your entrances
Twinkling fairy lights don’t need to be just for decoration! Any form of outdoor lighting – from a motion sensor security light to dressed-up evergreens – can help protect your home by lighting up the exterior and removing the cover of darkness that thieves love. It makes approaching your home too conspicuous for a burglar.
However, many enthusiastic festive house dressers’ common mistake is feeding extension cables through partially open windows; criminals know to look for this vulnerability. When it comes to outdoor lighting, if you don’t have an external plug outlet, opt for solar or battery-operated lights instead.
2. Be strategic with your recycling
Bin collections over the Christmas and New Year period are normally at different times. If you can’t take packaging to a recycling centre, make sure you only put your rubbish out just before the collection and do your best to fold boxes inside-out so that they don’t advertise any new contents of your home to thieves.
3. Don’t advertise your plans
For thieves, social media can be used to scout potential targets. If you usually publish your whereabouts during the holiday season – including any plans to be away from home – do think twice before posting this year, as you could be giving a potential burglar knowledge of when your house is going to be empty. Uploaded photos of pricey Christmas gifts can also be a problem. It’s always worth double-checking your privacy settings on social channels and, where possible, keeping your profile private.
4. Check doors and windows for weak spots
The Office for National Statistics reported in 2020 that windows were used to gain access in 30% of burglaries, so installing a few deadbolts and new window hinges could increase the security of your home. 1 in 7 burglars also walked straight through an unlocked door; where possible, it’s worth keeping your doors locked even when you’re at home.
5. Keep your curtains and blinds closed at night
If you’re going out for the evening, you could use a plug timer on your lights to give the illusion of someone being at home or go one step further and invest in a Fake TV device.
You should also always ensure valuable items are out of sight.
6. Deterring would-be criminals is one of the most effective forms of crime prevention
Using window stickers to highlight the fact that your possessions are security marked and registered on Immobilise is a savvy move. It warns thieves that your goods are traceable and not worth the risk of stealing. If you have a security camera, a dog or are a member of a Neighbourhood Watch area, these are also good things to advertise to any unwelcome visitors!
7. Away over Christmas? Plan ahead!
Be sure to cancel any deliveries. Arrange for a trusted neighbour to park on the driveway to help create the impression someone is at home. As mentioned above, make use of light timers and devices like Fake TVs.
8. Secure garages and sheds
Make sure that garden tools or ladders are not left lying around or accessible from an unlocked garden shed; they could be used to force entry into your home. Garages are often targets for burglars looking for tools, bikes and gardening equipment – if you have a garage, make sure it is locked and items such as bikes or tools are secured. Make sure that anything portable or valuable is recorded on Immobilise.
9. Don’t hide keys, and use alarms if you have them
Burglars know all of the best hiding places for spare keys, so don’t put them under rocks, in flowerpots, or above door ledges. Instead, give the spare key to family or a trusted neighbour. Many houses now have alarms; make sure yours is on and protecting your home when you are away or out for the evening, where possible.
10. And lastly, don’t forget to protect your gifts on Immobilise.com!
Most electricals have a unique code, such as a serial number which can be used to register the item. Mobile phones have an IMEI number, which can be easily found by dialling *#06#.