How can I protect my home from burglars?
Keep yourself and your valuables safe from theft.
In 2019, almost 216,000 burglaries were reported to the police*. And nearly 16% of burglaries were reported towards the end of the year, during November and December.
The UK is under various degrees of lockdown during December, with some areas more open than others. And with Christmas not too far away, there's potential for an increase in burglaries.
So what can you do to protect yourself?
Luckily you don't need to recreate the house from Home Alone. Here are some simple tips. But first:
Do I need to update my home insurance policy over Christmas?
No, you don't.
Insurance companies appreciate that you may have more stuff over Christmas. They'll usually adjust your contents amount to cover this.
Compare home insurance quotes
Lock your doors and windows - even when you're home
Sounds like overkill, right?
But 64% of burglaries happen while someone is at home. That's according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
And 24% of successful burglars got in through the front door because it wasn't locked.
Something as simple as locking up could be enough of a deterrent for an opportunistic thief looking for an easy score.
Remove the temptation
Out of sight, out of mind.
Remove any high-value items from near the window so thieves can't take inventory by peering in.
Be mindful of what's visible in your bins e.g. TV boxes or medications, so you don't advertise what's inside.
It might be good to keep your keys away from your front door, too. Thieves can sometimes hook these through the letterbox and let themselves in.
The ONS says that one in 10 successful burglars got in because they had a key.
Also, some thieves can use nearby keys to break into your car using keyless relay technology.
READ MORE: Is your car at risk of keyless theft?
If you're going away, be careful who you tell.
Letting a trusted neighbour know so they can keep an eye on things might be worth it. But telling the whole street might not.
According to the ONS, 43% of burglars were people known to the victim, at least in passing.
Avoid mentioning on social media that the house is going to be empty. That includes checking in at holiday destinations on Facebook.
The same applies for telling people when you're expecting a plumber or electrician. A thief could pose as a worker to gain access to your home without suspicion.
Invest in smart home security
Smart home tech could be an easy, affordable option if you want to beef up your home security.
You can hook your outdoor lights to your Wi-Fi and automate when they come on.
A smart doorbell camera lets you know who's lurking outside without you needing to go near the door.
Many of these gadgets are self-install, so you don't need to worry about getting someone in to sort it for you.
READ MORE: The best home security devices
Secure important or hard-to-replace items
Any important documents could be used by a thief to steal your identity. That includes passports, birth certificates and insurance documents.
Also, anything with great value - sentimental or otherwise - might be better off in a secure place.
A strong home safe could give these items extra protection from both theft and fire.
Make sure you secure the safe itself e.g. bolt it to the floor, or it might become easy pickings.
The most stolen items are:
|Item||% of burglary victims that said this item was stolen|
|Money / bank cards||26%|
|Laptop / PC||20%|
Make things easier for yourself
These next tips aren't going to prevent a burglary, but they could help you out if you are a victim of one.
Consider contents insurance. A policy designed to cover your items from theft could come in handy if you're burgled.
Mark your items with UV ink. Use a UV pen to write your name and address on electrical and computer equipment.
If it's stolen and the police recover it, you might be able to get it back.
Register important items with the police. You can register certain possessions using Immobilise, a police database.
This helps keep track of stolen possessions e.g. if a thief tries to sell it on.
READ MORE: What to do if you get burgled
*Figures taken from a Freedom of Information request to UK police forces asking for the number of reported burglaries in their area, broken down by month.
**Figures taken from omnibus research carried out by One Poll on behalf of Confused.com. This was an online poll of 2,000 UK adults (nationally representative sample). The research was conducted between 20 and 23 November 2020.