As the clocks go back and our evenings become shorter, the risk of our homes being burgled significantly increases.
Winter is unfortunately a peak time for break-ins, with longer nights providing more cover.
Insurance claims peak on Bonfire Night (by around 22 per cent), as families go out to enjoy the fireworks. There is also an increased risk of burglary in the run-up to Christmas, as homes full of expensive gifts are left empty during shopping trips, work parties and family visits.
The average burglary costs homeowners £2,623. To be safer this winter, here are six pointers for keeping your home safer:
Simply lock up
Nearly two thirds of householders confess to leaving doors unlocked when they go out. A further 37 per cent admit to leaving doors unlocked when they are at home – even though 22 per cent of burglaries happen when a home is occupied. Try to look at your house like a burglar would. If they pass your house and see your front gate is shut, they are likely to conclude that the homeowner is security conscious. The same applies if you have two locks on your front door. If, however, your gate is left open, or you only have one lock, a potential burglar is likely to think you are a bit slack. And remember; if that applies at the front of your property, it will apply even more so at the rear of your home.
Sow the seeds of security
Your garden can also tempt burglars. Keeping your lawn, hedges and overhanging trees trimmed is an easy way to deter them. If a lawn is recently mown, a burglar will think a homeowner has not gone away. And by keeping hedges and trees trimmed, you won’t give burglars unnecessary cover. This also helps your neighbour keep an eye out for you.
Try to store away garden furniture and trampolines for winter as well - they can become makeshift ladders for burglars. Frome’s Storagebase offers 1,000 secure storage rooms in a variety of sizes - perfect for garden equipment which is surplus to requirements during the winter months. If you have enough room at home to store your garden equipment, try to view your shed as an extension of your house. Fit at least two locks on the door and maybe put wire on the windows. Be sure to keep spades and forks out of sight as well – they are a burglar’s tool of choice to prise open house doors.
A man’s best friend can be a burglar’s best friend
Contrary to popular belief, burglars are not put off by the presence of pets in our homes. A cat flap can weaken a door, so be prudent where you fit one and who fits it. Burglars can also assume that pet owners do not turn on their alarms because they do not want their cat or dog to set them off. So when a burglar spots a deterrent sign saying 'Beware of the dog’, they may actually think ‘this house is not alarmed’.
It’s important not to compromise on cost and to buy one from a well-known manufacturer (e.g. chubb.co.uk or yale.co.uk). Burglars know their alarms and can often spot dummy systems. They can also deactivate the cheap systems. Alarms fitted with cameras are reasonably priced today, and they enable you to view your home from your computer or on a mobile phone. And if you want to be extra vigilant, consider installing motion-sensitive security lighting in the garden.
Burglars have been known to feed long objectives through letterboxes to fish keys off hall tables. This can allow a burglar to break into your house, as well as steal your car. By fitting a simple cage to the inside of your letterbox, you can block out any unwanted burglar and makeshift fishing rods. It will also stop your door being blocked up each day with post!
Your house could be a burglar's Christmas gift
The average Briton spends £350 on Christmas gifts, and if you are not careful, the presents could end up in the wrong hands. Try not to hide gifts in obvious places, like in the wardrobe. First and foremost, your kids are likely to find them before Christmas Day, but this could also apply to a burglar. Thieves (and children!) are less likely to peer into an attic.
If you have spent a fortune on a festive shopping splurge, consider hiding your expensive gifts from all prying eyes in external storage. Our safe, secure and dry units range from wardrobe to warehouse size. And when Christmas Day is over and done with, don’t forget to rip up boxes and take them to the tip. Piles of festive rubbish outside your house can be a burglar’s guide to your home’s valuable contents.