AS the festive shopping gets under way, homes become more attractive to burglars. Lisa Salmon reveals how to ensure your house is secure
It might sound like the plot of Nineties’ Christmas classic Home Alone, but the festive season - with its visits to family and friends and, of course, all those presents - attracts burglars to homes.
Research from Halifax Home Insurance has shown a 25 per cent increase in December theft claims, with an average of nearly 50 claims made each day over the Christmas period.
So, there’s never a better time to step up your home security - and for the 12 days of Christmas, here are 12 festive security tips, compiled with the help of the DIY security company Swann...
1. Even if you don’t have children to hide presents from, make sure criminals can’t see them through your windows and doors by hiding them in cupboards and under beds.
2. If you’re going away for Christmas, make the house look lived in. Turning on lights when no one’s at home in winter can deter burglars. You can buy timers that will turn lights on automatically, or just ask a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your property, open and close curtains and put lights on.
3. If you’re going away, ask a neighbour to park their car in your driveway to make it look like someone’s home.
4. Keep an eye on any suspicious behaviour in the neighbourhood. Security cameras for inside and outside the home can enhance your home security and peace of mind, but as they’re not within everyone’s budget, being vigilant has to be the next best thing.
5. Make sure all windows and doors are firmly shut and locked when leaving home. Leaving an entry path slightly open is a temptation for a burglar.
6. Don’t leave notes for couriers saying no one’s in. Make sure you’ve sent instructions about where to leave parcels if you’re out.
7. Make sure all packaging is ripped up and buried in bins, so criminals can’t easily see what’s been added to an already festive-filled house.
8. Don’t openly display your Christmas tree and gifts in the front window so it’s easily visible from the street. It can be tempting for criminals to smash the window and grab wrapped packages.
9. Make sure your outside lights aren’t burning 24 hours a day, and newspapers or advertising flyers aren’t piled up through your letterbox. Again, you might need to ask a neighbour to collect your mail and free papers if you go away.
10. Burglars know to look for the hidden door key near the front entrance. Don’t hide spare keys under rocks, in flowerpots, or above door ledges. Instead, give the spare key to a trusted neighbour.
11. Burglars prefer to enter through unlocked doors or windows, so an electricity extension cord running through an open window to exterior Christmas lights can be an open invitation. Hire an electrician to install an inexpensive exterior outlet for festive outdoor lights.
12. Make sure your family name isn’t visible outside your house, like on a mailbox. Criminals can get your number from directory enquiries and call your home to confirm there’s no one in. And don’t leave descriptive telephone answering machine messages like “We’re away skiing for Christmas, please leave a message.” Burglars love to hear they have plenty of time to ransack your home.