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Christmas Home Security Tips and Advice

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Many of us are looking forward to Christmas, taking a break from work, seeing family and friends and possibly over-indulging a little. But its important to be aware that the Christmas period is a time when opportunist burglars are particularly active and on the lookout for valuable targets. The months of December into January are when UK crime rates reach their peak with anti social behaviour and burglary at their highest rates. In this post we provide some practical security guidance that will help ensure you don’t become a Christmas crime victim.

During the Christmas holiday period many people leave their homes to visit and spend time with relatives and friends. Since most burglaries in the UK are carried out when homes are empty its vitally important to take adequate precautions. Here are our best home security tips.

Going Away for Christmas

If you are going away over the christmas period its not a good idea to announce that your home will be empty via social media. Make certain your social media posts are restricted to friends and family and think twice about letting anyone, other than trustworthy neighbours, know that your home will be empty.

You can make it look like your home is still occupied by putting some lights on timers and possibly a radio or TV. Automatically switching lights and devices on and off at various times will discourage many burglars from attempting to break in.

away for christmas
Make Certain Your Home is Secure before Going Away for Christmas

Another useful tactic is to ask a trusted neighbour or friend to keep an eye on your property. They might even come inside, take in your mail and maybe water a few plants for you. They may be happy to open and close your curtains and possibly put your bins out. These actions will all make it appear that your home is still occupied and keep burglars at bay.

While on the subject of neighbours, why not join a neighbourhood watch scheme? And if one doesn’t exist in your area, why not set one up? Neighbourhood watch schemes are recognised as highly effective in enabling communities to combat crime and develop neighbourly support.

Be sure to cancel your milk and newspaper deliveries as these can often signal to burglars that a house is unoccupied. Or if you have persuaded a neighbour to watch your property, you might ask them to collect your milk, newspapers and mail while you are away.

Another tell-tale sign that people are away from home is when their car, which is normally parked on the driveway, isn’t there. If possible, ask a neighbour to park their car in your drive as this will again suggest to potential burglars there is someone at home.

Whenever You Go Out

While the previous home security recommendations are primarily for when you are staying away from home its important not to overlook basic home security precautions that apply whenever you go out, even for only a few minutes. Experienced thieves can be in and out of a property in no time, so Christmas drinks parties and late nights out provide ideal opportunities for them to commit their crimes.

Its worth establishing a simple security routine whenever you leave your home, even for just a few minutes. Here’s our suggested checklist:

  • Make certain all doors and windows are closed and securely locked.
  • Ensure all bikes, garden furniture and other outdoor valuables are securely locked away in a garage or secure storage location.
  • Make certain your perimeter is as secure as possible by locking all gates.
  • If you have an alarm system, make certain its turned on and active.
  • Similarly, if you have a CCTV system, make certain its functioning.
  • Make certain that all valuables are out of sight.
  • Hide all keys to make certain they can’t be seen from any window.
  • Keep handbags away from letterboxes and cat flaps to prevent them from being hooked by a burglar.
  • Never leave important documentation, such as car documents, in obvious, easily found locations. Always store valuable documents securely.
  • Note that valuable documents should include anything that would enable identity theft.
  • If you are out after dark, close the curtains, leave some lights on and possibly leave a radio or TV on.
  • If you are likely to be away all day, refer to the previous home security recommendations and possibly get a friendly neighbour to keep a watchful eye on your property.

Keep Valuables, Gifts and Packaging Out of Sight

Police forces throughout the UK recognise that the festive period is a peak time for burglaries. They understand the enormous impact that burglaries have on local communities and the personal impact when valuable, sentimental items are stolen.

They recommend that valuable, treasured or irreplaceable items should always be stored in a secure location. Its important to ensure that Christmas gifts and valuables are never on display to passers by and its also important to be aware of the packaging. While you may have prevented anyone from seeing the brand new laptop received for christmas, if the box it came in is left out with the rubbish or recycling this tells would-be burglars there is something of value inside the home. Its best to either take packaging like this directly to a recycling facility, or wait until the collection day to put it outside.

rubbish and packaging
Don`t Leave Tell-tale Packaging Outside

Another important recommendation that’s often overlooked is to lock doors and windows when at home and remove keys from the locks. Although most burglars will only attempt to enter a property when they are confident nobody is at home, some brazen criminals don’t care. And its important to make certain you are using high quality, robust door and window locks and wherever possible, use two locks. You may also want to consider bolstering window and door security using additional security bars, for example in sheds, garages and outbuildings where valuables are stored.

shed outhouse security
Make Certain Sheds, Garages and Outbuildings are Secure

Its also worth noting that running power cables via windows to supply exterior Christmas lights often prevents windows from being securely closed - and criminals know this. So its essential to make certain all windows and doors can be securely closed and locked. Ideally, exterior Christmas lighting should be powered from an external power source.

Police forces note that offenders are often tempted when they see Christmas gifts on show. An illuminated Christmas tree surrounded by gifts can be a significant temptation, so the police recommend that gifts aren’t placed under the festive tree until near Christmas day. And if possible, keep the tree and gifts out of sight from any windows. The police are also aware that many people keep Christmas gifts in their cars overnight, which they discourage. But if its unavoidable then make certain gifts are well hidden.

Another important aspect of keeping valuables out of sight is not to show them off on social media. While it may be tempting to excitedly show all your friends the lovely piece of jewellery, watch, bike or smartphone you’ve been lucky enough to receive from Father Christmas, make certain your social media posts are secure and not publicly shared. Better still, don’t post anything on social media. Criminals are always on the lookout for targets where they know there are re-sellable valuables.

Deter Would-be Burglars

Its worth considering various ways in which would-be burglars can be deterred from targeting your home. One of the most effective techniques is to use security lighting that’s triggered by motion, brightly illuminating your property when its turned on.

Combine security lighting with a CCTV camera system and appropriate warning signage for a highly effective anti-burglar deterrent.

And for many properties, effective perimeter security is another aspect of intruder deterrence that will help keep burglars away.

Look out for Burglar Symbols

Did you know that many burglars use a system of codes and symbols to help them break into our homes? In the UK, three out of five burglaries are successful with victims losing, on average, in excess of £3200. Experienced burglars will generally monitor a property to determine whether its a viable target. They may then leave a symbol or marking (often in chalk) on the building, garage door, post box or somewhere else to note what they have learned.

When ‘casing a house’ criminals will often get to know:

  • The property layout
  • Where potential entry points are
  • The times when occupants aren’t at home
  • Alarms, cameras and security lighting that may be in place on the target property and neighbouring properties.

They may also call at the property, pretending to be a sales person or another common caller, to gain a view inside the house and learn a little about the occupants. And they may try telephoning the house at various times to gather further intelligence.

European law enforcement agencies are constantly monitoring the codes and symbols used by burglars. Here’s a useful list of known signs and symbols but it should be noted that symbology in this context isn`t consistent.

  • Circle: Can be used to indicate an easy house to target. This may be due to nil home security.
  • Barred circle: This tells them to avoid burgling this house. This can be due to detected home security or perhaps the presence of a dog.
  • Triangle: This recognised symbol indicates a single woman in the house. Thieves are known to target women or the elderly as they’re known to be easier targets.
  • Ladder-like lines: This symbol indicates there are valuables visible inside the home that are worth stealing.
  • Cross: This symbol indicates the occupant will respond to religion and religious canvassers.
  • Two barred waves: This symbol indicates a man who will respond to women. Burglars may carry out research to discover weaknesses that will help them gain information and access.
  • Letter codes: Symbols and signals may include various letters: M can indicate that a property is empty in the morning. N indicates a house is empty at night.
burglary symbols
Burglary Symbol Examples

 If you see symbols or markings on your property or your neighbour’s properties its important to capture some images, make certain the homeowner is aware and tell the local police. Then - remove the markings.

If you have any questions about home security remember that we are here to help. Give us a call on 01273 475500 and we’ll provide you with free, expert advice.

This message was added on Thursday 2nd December 2021

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