As any Cliff Richard fan knows, Christmas time should be about mistletoe and wine. But sadly, it’s sometimes a case of mistletoe and CRIME, with close to 700,000 domestic burglaries reported in 2017, according to government statistics. And shockingly, it takes a burglar just a MINUTE to decide whether to commit a break in, based on spotting an average of 11 security flaws.
When your house is packed with presents it’s easy to feel like a target. However, Anglian Home Improvements, has been working with a reformed criminal called Richard Taylor, who has come up with some top tips on how not to get burgled this Christmas.
Kitted out with an eye tracker, Richard was able to record 32 potential security issues in there minutes. These have been used to compile a list of dos and don’ts that will help keep your home safe.
1. DO hide presents
It’s not just the kids that will be trying to guess what’s in those parcels under the tree. Your living room window becomes a shop front to criminals at Christmas time, who will be tempted in by potential high-ticket items like games consoles and smartphones. It’s best that you tell Santa to wait until early on Christmas morn to leave any presents under the tree – even if they’re smellies for granny and a bottle of something for grandad.
2. DON’T forget to fortify your pet doors
We’re not quite sure how they manage it, but burglars have been known to break in through doggy doors and cat flaps. They’re seen as a weak point in the door and larger models can even be crawled through. ‘It’s a scary fact that burglars will likely be scouting out your home for a while, looking for patterns of behaviour and potential hiding places like bushes or dark areas,’ says Izzy Schulman, Director at locksmiths Keys4U.
‘Investing in alarms and motion sensors around dark or covered areas around your home will put off burglars,’ she adds. ‘And they’re worth the investment considering the average cost suffered from a burglary is £3,030.’
3. DO keep your letterbox clear
A front door with letters peeping out is a green flag to criminals that you’re not at home. As is a note to any couriers to ‘leave the parcel around the back’. You could invest in a Ring doorbell to help you manage deliveries – you’ll get an alert on your phone when the post arrives.
5. DON’T run electrical cables through windows
Who doesn’t love a front garden illuminated with festive lights? But be warned, running their cords through a teensy gap through the windows is a big security risk. Burglars will see an opportunity to break in without needing to force an entry. Avoid making yourself an easy target by asking an electrician to install an outdoor plug instead.
6. DO hide packaging
A bin full of wrapping paper and Amazon boxes is a dead giveaway that your home is full of festive bounty. Bury any boxes deep down or – better still – drive them to your local recycling centre right away.
7. DON’T be careless on social media
As we’ve warned before, burglars are getting increasingly smart and can use social media to target potential empty homes. If you’re planning to go away for the festive season – even for just one night – be wary of what you post. Set your social media accounts to private, so that no one but close friends and family know what you’re posting, or leave your sharing for when you get back. And never accept friend requests from strangers.
8. DO make your home look lived in
Now’s the chance to make the most of your Hive or Nest smart home system. Start by getting all your lights on a timer so it looks like people are coming and going. You could also hook your radio up to a smart plug and tune it in to TalkSport, Radio 4 or any other station that broadcasts chat. No smart system? Ask a neighbour to pop in and draw the curtains, and light your rooms appropriately for the time of day.
9. DO stay hot on home security
Intruders are always finding cheeky new ways to get into your homes. Burglars in Bradford even used blowtorches to melt the lock off a door and managed to steal the keys to a £30,000 car!
‘It’s a threat for homeowners, leaving no evidence and in some cases completely destroying any proof of a lock,’ ays Izzy Schulman. ‘While it’s difficult to completely prepare for such extreme attempts, make sure to replace any outdated home locks and consider fitting wood or steel composite doors which won’t melt away.’
‘It’s also recommended to leave car keys downstairs and away from your person for your safety if intruders get inside looking for them.’
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‘The Christmas season is always a busy period,’ says Costas Kariolis, Head of Digital Marketing at Anglian Home Improvements. ‘But it’s important not to forget about necessary security measures for your home. It was great to work with Richard on the video, as he has pointed out security flaws that many of us would not have noticed. We hope that our festive tips inspire people to think about the other ways in which we can keep our homes secure.’