Long, dark nights, combined with inviting, unoccupied homes and the lure of tantalising Christmas presents left under the tree, provide burglars with all the excuses they need to brave a break-in. Burglaries in the UK typically rise by almost 20% over the Christmas period and in December 2016, 37,492 break-ins were reported, more than any other month of the year.
Follow these tips provided by Gloucestershire Police to prevent a Christmas burglary and to instantly improve the security of your home:
Stop sharing your location and holidays on social media.
If you post your holiday snaps when you’re abroad, check-in to a restaurant, or update your status when you’re out and about you’re effectively telling a burglar that your property is open for a viewing.
You might also want to take this time to check your social networking security settings and remove people who you don’t think need to see your updates.
Use time switches attached to lamps.
Many burglaries happen between 3pm and 8pm on weekdays. When the nights are drawing in avoid allowing your property to look empty when you’re at work or out.
Time switches are a relatively quick to install and cheap to purchase (approx. £5). A good idea is to use at least one for the front of your home and one for the back.
Stop sharing your valuables online.
When you share your expensive bike, watch, medals and jewellery online you might just be advertising it to a burglar.
Use a fake TV burglar deterrent device.
These devices cost between £10 and £25 and give the illusion that someone is watching the TV in the property. You can purchase energy-efficient devices with timers from a variety of online shops.
Keep your doors, windows and back gate locked – even when you’re there.
Obviously it makes sense to keep your doors and windows locked when you leave the house. What you might not do already is keep your front door, back door and windows locked when you’re in the house.
Distraction theft, which can include someone talking to you at the front door while someone else enters your home from the back door or windows, has been on the rise nationally for the past few years. Protect yourself by keeping your back door and windows locked.
You probably wouldn’t expect to have a burglar come into your house through the front door while you’re there. It can happen, so always keep your front door locked, too.
Make sure there are no tools or equipment in your garden that can be used against you.
Many burglaries occur where a person’s own tools left in the garden such as a ladder or spade have been used to force a burglar’s way into a property. Make sure all of your tools and equipment are locked securely away.
Put up a ‘beware of the dog’ sign.
Burglars aren’t usually keen on dogs since they can bark and bite. Use a simple and cheap sign to put off a potential visit.
Move your wheelie bin.
Where is your wheelie bin? Is it next to your locked back gate? Could someone use it to quickly get over the gate? If so, move it away.
Check if your home looks like a shop.
Go outside your property and have a look through the windows. What can you see? A laptop, tablet, games console, jewellery, expensive designer hand bag? Put all of these items out of sight from the window and away from prying eyes.
Move your house and car keys.
Never keep your keys in the door lock. It takes seconds for someone to open your door and take the keys to use at a later date. You probably won’t hear someone open your door and think that you’ve just lost your keys.
Cars are a target for burglars. Move all your keys away from doors and keep them stored out of sight.
Turn on the radio.
Burglars like to see if you’re in by knocking the door first or ringing the doorbell. Even if you’re not in, the sound coming from a radio might be enough to make a burglar think twice about trying to break into your home.
Put up a window sticker.
Do you have a house alarm or CCTV? Put up a window sticker to tell burglars. Even if you don’t have them (and we advise you to at least get an alarm installed), it could still put off a burglar.
Close the curtains as it’s getting dark.
When it gets dark outside and you turn the lights on inside, again, your home becomes a shop. Close the curtains or blinds as soon as it starts getting dark so there’s nothing to look at out from outside.
Make your property look lived-in and loved.
Keep your property looking tidy from the outside, open and close your curtains regularly and keep hedges and plants around your property trimmed so that there’s plenty of natural surveillance from your neighbours and the road.
Consider buying a letterbox cage.
If you’ve not put your keys away and have left them by the front door, t’s possible that a burglar can use a pole through your letter box to pick up your keys and use them to enter your property. By installing a letter box cage you can help prevent this technique being used against you.
Buy good quality locks for your shed and consider adding wire mesh to any windows.
Sheds are very often a target for burglars. Make yours difficult to get into by purchasing a good quality lock and adding wire mesh to the windows. If your shed has electricity running to it consider adding an alarm too.