How to keep your home safe over Christmas
21st Dec, 2016
Just when you are immersed in the busiest time of the year, dashing around from school plays, to the office to finish those last bits and out Christmas shopping the very last thing you’re often thinking about is what you’re leaving behind, your home.
But this is the very time when your home is most at risk of break-ins and sadly, theft. We’ve put together the following few reminders and tips to keep in mind during the festive season to help keep your home safe.
Would-be burglars tend to be either chancers or those who have taken a little time to study the behaviour of their victims. A chancer is going to be relying on you accidentally leaving a door or window open, they’ll probably try a number of houses in your street until they get lucky. Double check your habits every time you leave the house at this time of year to make sure everything is locked and your alarm is activated. Remember if your house was burgled and it is equipped with an alarm which wasn’t turned on this may affect any insurance claim (with regard to insurance, now is a good time to check that your policy is up to date and covered for any additional high-value items you may have acquired since you took out the policy). Even popping out on the school run is no excuse for not turning on your alarm.
A more analytical burglar is going to be looking for patterns in when you leave the house or when your house is empty. They’ll have selected your home in particular as they’ll know they are taking less of a chance of getting caught. Again, always check you’ve fully locked doors and windows, not forgetting the conservatory for example, and activate your alarm. Utilise tools such as timer lamps and CCTV to act as deterrents.
It’s lovely to see all the Christmas presents under the tree but this is exactly what a would-be thief is looking for. No matter how tempted you are, keep your precious gifts hidden and well out of sight.
Take care online too – check your privacy settings on any social media channels, especially large groups where you won’t know all of the people and really think before you post. Try not to disclose that you are all away from your home during the holidays or even on a night out. It’s difficult during the most sociable time of the year but if possible wait until you return to post your status updates and photos.
Equally, take care when Christmas shopping online. Cyber-crime is on the up so always check that online shops are secure by looking for the padlock symbol in the browser bar when you come to pay and if an offer seems way too good to be true then as the saying goes, it probably is, so do a little research to check that the retailer is legitimate. Don’t leave credit cards lying around the home or in view for example on a desk near your computer, anyone coming to the house might be able to see them.
Marking any high-value gifts or special items with an ultraviolet pen will enable Police to track any items should they go missing.
As well as making sure you hide presents and gifts at home, don’t store gifts in the car on the drive in case they catch the eye of potential thieves. In addition, when you are out shopping be mindful of people watching you as you load up your car with gifts. Many people make several trips back and forth to the car when Christmas shopping each time loading it up with more items, as soon as you walk away a thief could be ready to break into your car so be careful where you park and always try to be discreet about what’s in the bags if you can. The same goes for if you are using public transport, always conceal your high-value purchases if at all possible to avoid attracting attention to them.
Your home may be your place of business or you may own business premises. Treat the holiday season as prime time to take extra security here as criminals regularly target businesses that have shut down for the festive period. Again, update security systems, keep high-value items well hidden and ensure any insurance policies are well up to date. You could also use Thief Detection Powder on door-knobs or high-value items to assist in catching potential perpetrators.
Shoplifting increases significantly in the run-up and over the Christmas period so if you own a shop be extra vigilant with your security measures at this time of year too.
Whilst it’s not a pleasant subject, taking extra care over Christmas is the best way to ensure that everyone apart from the criminals have a happy Christmas and New Year.