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Don’t Let Burglary Ruin Your Staycation

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New research highlights how the uncertainty around COVID-19 alongside fears of becoming stranded abroad has led to the majority (83%) of British holidaymakers saying they would prefer to take their vacations in the UK. This change has driven a huge increase in staycations and the trend looks set to continue into 2021.

There is one guaranteed way that a family staycation will be ruined and that’s to receive a call from the police telling you that your home has been burgled. You will immediately need to return home to assess what’s missing and possibly any damage that may have been caused. We have previously provided some guidance on home security but it’s worth considering exactly how burglars identify and choose their targets so that you can take effective precautions before going on holiday and avoid becoming a staycation crime statistic.

Key Facts About Burglaries

Being aware of startling facts about burglaries in the UK will help you formulate a strategy to keep your home safe while you’re away.

Majority of Burglaries Committed by Someone Living Nearby

Typically, burglars reside within 2 miles of the homes that they target. Local knowledge is very valuable to criminals who are always on the lookout for easy targets. Trusted neighbours are extremely valuable but it’s important to be aware that there are others who are not so trustworthy. Also, as times get increasingly hard for many people, due to the economic downturn, some may be tempted to commit burglary if they spot an easy opportunity.

Where you live is one of the most significant factors in the likelihood that your home will be targeted by thieves. Police.uk provide a useful database that tells you what the top reported crimes are in any region of the UK.

In Around 28% of Burglaries Someone is Home

It’s very concerning to know that in around 3 out of 10 burglaries there is someone actually at home while the burglary is carried out. But this also tells us that in around 7 out of 10 cases the targeted properties are empty.

Empty properties present a huge opportunity for burglars who know that they can take their time to both gain entry and find valuables once inside. This is why it’s vitally important to keep details of planned holidays completely secure and secret.

Household Possessions are No Longer a Priority for Burglars

Whereas not so long ago burglars would have sought valuable household items such as TVs and sound systems which they could quickly resell, times have changed. Modern day burglars are likely to be far more interested in car keys and personal identity data such as passports, laptops and documents. TVs and sound systems are no longer worth as much as they once were but games platforms, tablets and mobile phones are all attractive to criminals. Keeping valuable items safely locked away is vital.

Most Burglaries are Committed During the Day

Statistics show that most burglaries occur between the hours of 10:00AM and 3:00PM, when most people are either at work, school or college. Burglars act quickly, targeting homes that they have previously identified as easy to access enabling them to get in and out without any trouble.

Another fact is that once burglars know that a property is an easy target they are likely to return, or tell their criminal friends. Familiarity with a property gives them confidence and properties which have experienced burglary often experience subsequent attacks quite soon after the first. Burglars also understand that homeowners have insurance and that items they stole on the first visit are likely to have been replaced, so they come back to steal them again.

The Arrest Rate for Burglary is Low

Only around 14 arrests are made for every 100 burglaries, and this doesn’t mean that all of those who are arrested are finally convicted. This shocking statistic explains why it’s important for people to implement sensible home security precautions because the chance of ever retrieving any stolen property is almost nil.

open window
Make Certain Windows and Doors are Secure

What Burglars Look For

Given that most burglaries are committed by people living nearby it’s important to be aware of the signs and signals that burglars are looking out for. This is especially important when leaving your home empty to go on holiday.

Letting People Know You’re Away

It’s understandable that people get very excited about their imminent holidays, especially after having been stuck at home on lockdown for a prolonged period. It’s quite common to see people posting details of their forthcoming holidays on social media, counting down the days til their departure. But it’s important to remember that criminals can also potentially see what’s being posted and shared on various social media platforms.

It’s absolutely vital to keep the details of your holiday, when you are planning to be away and for how long, completely secure. Don’t publicise or advertise the fact that your home is about to be empty or is currently empty because you are off on your holidays. Keep your social media posts until you return home and always be aware of your privacy settings and who might be able to see and share what you are posting. It’s important to make certain that all members of your family, including your children, are also exercising sensible precautions about disclosing holiday details online.

No Visible Security

Experienced burglars know exactly what home security precautions to look out for. Security cameras, alarms, motion triggered lighting and high security locks will all be noticed by experienced criminals and these can all act as valuable deterrents. Police estimates tell us that properties with only basic home security are five times more likely to experience break-ins. It therefore makes sense to go beyond basic home security and implement a multi-layered security strategy that will both deter and prevent break-ins.

Poor Window and Door Security

Most home break-ins gain entry via insecure doors and windows. Experienced burglars are able to easily recognise cheap, poorly made, flimsy doors and windows. They also know about window and door locks and the amount of effort needed to overcome them.

Ensuring that all windows, doors, window frames and door frames are robust and securely fastened with appropriate locks is essential. This is a vitally important aspect of home security that’s often a requirement of home insurance policies.

Visible Valuables

Most burglaries are opportunist crimes. A criminal may have seen a property that they recognise as poorly secured and they may have spotted some valuable items through a window. This could be enough for them to to attempt a break-in.

Similarly, valuable items which are left outdoors such as ladders, tools, garden equipment and outdoor furniture can prove to be irresistible temptations to criminals. Unsecured valuables that are left in the garden or outdoors are easy targets for opportunist thieves who know that it will take only a few minutes steal them.

Your household rubbish can also alert local criminals to the fact that you have valuables in your home. This is why it’s important to carefully dispose of packaging that can act as an advertisement, telling people about your recent expensive purchases. Also, your household rubbish might contain financial statements, receipts and documents of interest to criminals.

The rule is to never leave any items of value anywhere they can be seen. This is particularly important if leaving a home empty when going away on holiday as this gives criminals much more time to identify valuable items and where they are stored. Also, be highly aware of what you are putting in your rubbish and what this might tell any would-be criminals. It’s always a good idea to make certain that no personal data is ever retrievable from your rubbish.

Change of Routine

The fact that most burglaries are committed by people who live close to the targeted, burgled properties highlights how its likely that household routines are often being locally monitored by criminals. If they see a change in routine this can alert them to a potential burglary opportunity.

Creating uncertainty in daily routines will help deter burglars. For example, becoming less predictable in daily movements. It can also be beneficial to switch devices on and off inside your home using timers, such as lighting, TV and radio. This creates further uncertainty over whether the property is unoccupied, which will deter some criminals.

long shedbar securing shed door
Long Shed Bar Securing Shed Door

Anti-Burglary Precautions

Having examined some of the signs that criminals look out for here’s a useful list of practical home security precautions that you can take to keep your home safe while you are away on your staycation. 

  1. Don’t advertise the fact that you are going away or that you are away from your home on holiday. Keep your social media posts until you get home and don`t go telling everybody about your forthcoming holiday. Only share details with those you trust.
  2. Cancel your milk and other deliveries before you go away to avoid any tell-tale build ups.
  3. Ask a trusted neighbour to watch over your property while you are away. They might even be happy to draw the curtains in the evenings to make it look like you are still there.
  4. Leave radios, TV and lights on timers while you are away to give the appearance that your home is occupied.
  5. Don’t leave any items of value outdoors. Lock everything away securely in a garage, shed, outbuilding or indoors.
  6. Keep all keys somewhere secure and out of sight from windows.
  7. Don’t leave anything of value that can be be seen through your windows such as jewellery, laptops or games platforms.
  8. Don’t allow any documents or receipts with personal details to be retrievable from your rubbish.
  9. Be aware of packaging that announces your ownership of valuable items and keep this from being seen.
  10. Pay extra special attention to all windows and doors. Make certain they are robust, their frames are equally tough and that all locks are high quality, comply with appropriate British Standards and check that you have locked them.
  11. Secure valuable items such as bicycles, scooters and lawnmowers inside a locked shed or garage and securely attached them to an immovable point such as a ground anchor.
  12. Always store high value property such as passports, jewellery and personal documentation in a properly secured safe or with your bank.
  13. Mark your valuables such as jewellery, laptops, gardening equipment and power tools with your postcode. Visible markings act as a theft deterrent and stickers can be used to alert would-be thieves in order to put them off.
  14. Identify any areas around your property which might be used by a burglar to hide themselves while they attempt to gain entry, such as overgrown hedging. Take appropriate steps to remove the hiding place and improve visibility.
  15. Install a visible burglar alarm that’s activated while you are away.
  16. Install motion triggered exterior lighting around your property and make sure this illuminates any hidden areas.
  17. Pay attention to your perimeter security to make it difficult for burglars to easily gain entry.
  18. Keep your property well maintained. This sends a clear signal that the homeowner values their property and gaining entry is not likely to be easy.
  19. Importantly, make certain that your home insurance policy is right for your needs and that your home security precautions comply with the requirements of your insurer. Make sure you are aware of what your home contents insurance policy doesn’t cover and take out additional appropriate insurance.
  20. Engage with your local Neighbourhood Watch Scheme if there is one.
  21. Finally - create your own security checklist and before you depart on your staycation pause for a couple of minutes to run through the list to verify that you have taken sensible precautions and nothing has been overlooked. You don`t want to arrive at your holiday destination wondering if you have locked all the windows, for example.

We want you to enjoy your staycations with complete peace of mind so we hope that this guide has alerted you to practical precautions you can take to help ensure that your home is not targeted by opportunist burglars.

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

This message was added on Thursday 20th August 2020

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