Store all sets of keys away from the front door!
Whatever time of year it is, it’s never a good idea to leave your keys anywhere near your front door. A letterbox cage or guard can be fitted; burglars will often use the letterbox to retrieve keys stored inside the house.
When thinking about the security of your home, it is always a good idea to think like a burglar!
Look for any potential security risks that may be used to the advantage of a burglar i.e. spare keys under the mat. In a recent survey by Keytek® it was found that over 20% of Britons were still leaving spare keys hidden in an unsecure location such as under a plant pot in the garden.
Many will advise against this, including the Charity Age UK who advise on their website not to leave spare keys in “obvious places such as under a flower pot or doormat or hanging inside the letterbox”. For a relatively small cost it is advisable to have a Key Safe fitted in a hidden location on the outside of your home by a local locksmith. A Key Safe is a secure box where you can safely and securely store your keys without having to hide them or to rely on a neighbour or family member to look after them.
It is also advised that you don’t store any keys or ID documents near to a door or window that is accessible externally to minimise the risk of what is sometimes referred to as ‘fishing’. Insurance provider Aviva explains that “thieves will use props such as coat hangers and fishing rods to hook keys”. Key ‘fishing’ can be minimised not only by storing your keys away from any doors or windows but also by having a letterbox cage/guard fitted to your door by a locksmith. Letterbox brushes can be fitted to avoid a burglar seeing where your keys are stored.
Don’t share your holiday plans!
Don’t discuss any holiday plans on any type of open forum i.e. Facebook. I’m sure you have all heard the horror stories where over a thousand people turned up to a party that had been made public on Facebook, it would be like that but a party for… burglars!
According to online etiquette blog ‘Netmanners’ social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter are accessible by anyone although you are letting your ‘friends’ know what you are up to there is always the underlying issue that anyone can access your information and find out what you are up to i.e. burglars.
An interactive Facebook App was developed in 2011 to highlight the dangers of posting too much personal information on the internet called ‘Take This Lollipop’. The short horror film takes personal information from your profile through the use of your pictures and messages and shows a ‘Facebook stalker’ typing on a computer with your personal information appearing on his screen and then eventually he uses Google maps to pinpoint your position then he is seen driving to your location, therefore demonstrating to you the dangers of sharing personal information on the internet.
Window shopping for burglars!
Remember the Grinch who stole Christmas… never ever leave any presents or valuables where they can be seen by a burglar i.e. in view of a window.
The majority of home insurance providers will advise that you keep any valuables out of sight. According to Aviva you should be aware of any ‘top pickings’ for burglars; “consoles, games and DVDs make up 62% of belongings stolen”, “other favourites include cameras, computers, mobile phones, MP3 players and jewelry” (Aviva).
Christmas presents and valuables can be safely stored away in a lockable cupboard or drawer.
Join your local Neighbourhood Watch!
As part of our home security advice we recommend that you either join or start a Neighbourhood Watch scheme.
The Neighbourhood Watch works to bring neighbours together who want to look out for each other, creating strong, friendly, active communities where crime and antisocial behaviour are less likely to happen.
To find your local Neighbourhood Watch, or for information on how to start a Neighbourhood Watch scheme, please visit www.ourwatch.org.uk/
Alternatively if you don’t have a Neighbourhood Watch in your area and are going away for Christmas, inform a trusted neighbour that you are doing so, so they can keep an eye on your property.
Going away during the Christmas Holidays?
If you are going to be away for a long period of time ask Royal Mail to hold your mail – they will do this for up to 2 months.
The Royal Mail operates a Keepsafe® service during the Holidays. This service literally consists of the Royal Mail holding onto any parcel and letters whilst you’re away for up to 66 days and will deliver them to your home once you have returned.
The service is supported by The Home Office Identity Fraud Steering Committee as it reduces the risk of identity fraud when you are on Holiday as the service ensures that you do not leave any obvious clues to your absence such as a mountain of letters piled up on your doormat (Royal Mail).
If you’re going to be away from your home for a long period of time leave a light on or on a timer. Leaving a television or radio on is also a good alternative to leaving the lights on.
As the Holidays approach the majority of us will be frequently out of the house for longer periods of time whether that is due to attending an office party or just simply doing the Christmas shopping. In order to deter a burglar from breaking into your home it is regularly advised that if you are planning on returning when it is most likely to be dark, “lighting up your home is a useful deterrent of burglary” (Metropolitan Police).
Don’t give a burglar a leg up!
Store all bins and ladders away from your property. These could be used by an intruder to gain access to a 1st floor window.
The majority of leading home insurance providers will recommend that it is always a good idea to lock up anything that can be used by a burglar to gain entry to a first floor window or climb over a fence i.e. wheelie bins and ladders.
Home insurance provider Saga advise that all ladders should be securely locked away in a garage or shed. If you are using a garage or shed with windows to store anything that can be used by a burglar to gain entry it is also good to have curtains fitted to stop anyone from seeing in!