With dark nights and expensive presents sitting in our homes, Christmas is a prime time of year for burglars to operate under the cover of darkness and make the most of your thoughtfully chosen Christmas presents.
Whilst burglary claims fell in 2020 with everyone spending more time at home, rates have begun to rise again with an increase of 33% between January 2021 and September 2021. Now, as the nights start to draw in, we go out to more social events and start filling our homes in preparation for the festive season, burglars are provided with easy pickings.
So, how can you keep your home secure and prevent your home from falling victim to burglary this holiday season?
Why does burglary increase over Christmas?
Whilst it’s important to make sure your home is secure throughout the rest of the year, it can be more vulnerable at Christmas when burglars are particularly active. It is also a time when many people become much less vigilant as a result of the busy and unpredictable nature of the Christmas period.
There are a number of reasons why burglars are likely to target your home at Christmas:
- High value and easy to sell items are readily available
- Many homes are left empty over the Christmas period
- Dark nights allow burglars to work unnoticed
- Additional distractions mean that people are less vigilant
Here are our top home security tips for protecting your home this Christmas and help to deter intruders from entering your home.
1. Hide presents
Once your presents are bought and wrapped, it can be tempting to leave them all sitting around the tree in advance of Christmas day. However, if your tree can be seen from outside, it provides temptation to burglars who will know there are likely to be valuable items in there and they will be easily able to find them without searching and increasing the risk of being caught.
Don’t keep presents under your tree for days in advance. It’s better to keep them hidden somewhere a burglar is unlikely to find them or will not bother searching. The loft is a great place to keep them as it’s hard to get to but keeping them out of sight will reduce the temptation for opportunistic burglars. Only bring your presents out on Christmas Eve to give intruders a smaller chance of seeing them and planning a break in.
2. Install security lights
Installing security lights fitted with a motion sensor that come on automatically when movement is sensed either at the front or back of your home can be helpful deterrents and prevent intruders from being able to operate under the cover of darkness.
Whether it’s a planned or opportunistic burglary, intruders are likely to be put off because they’re more likely to be seen when gaining access to your property and when leaving.
3. Use automatic lights inside
Even if you’re only leaving your home for a few hours, or you’re at work, automatic lights can make it look like there’s someone at home and can deter burglars. Remember to close blinds and curtains too so that intruders can’t see inside when the lights are on and so that they can’t see that someone isn’t actually at home. If you leave a light on, it can make it look like someone is at home and will help to deter intruders.
Dark winter nights provide the perfect cover for burglars and if your home is the only one on your street without lights on, it’s obvious to an intruder that there’s no one home. If you want to include other signs of life, put your TV on a timer or leave the radio on to make it look like there’s someone at home and to put potential burglars off.
4. Dispose of gift packaging
If you’re buying and wrapping presents before Christmas Day, and after the big day, make sure you dispose of the boxes quickly and don’t leave them somewhere they can be easily seen. This is particularly important for expensive electrical items as it provides an advertisement to burglars that you have a number of expensive items within your home. Break the packaging up and keep it inside your home until you’re ready to take it to a recycling centre or bin day.
5. Plan ahead
If you’re planning to go away over the festive period, make sure you plan ahead. Cancel any newspaper or milk subscriptions as these piling up outside your home can be a sign that no one’s there. You can also arrange for a neighbour to park on your drive to make it look like someone’s at home.
Make sure you put any automatic lights or timers on and set your burglar alarm and CCTV system to make your home as secure as possible while you’re away.
6. Be careful about what you post on social media
As we post so much of our personal information on social media, many burglars will turn to social media to check for potential targets. Many people tend to publish their location over Christmas which lets potential intruders know when your home will be empty.
Uploading photos of expensive gifts to social media is another bad idea because you’re advertising the expensive items that are in your home.
7. Do not hide keys
If you’re going away and having someone go in to check on plants, pets or open and close curtains, it can be tempting to hide your spare keys somewhere. Burglars will know exactly where to look for hidden door keys such as under flower pots or above door ledges so leave them with someone you trust such as family members or neighbours to prevent burglars from gaining easy access to your home.
8. Secure doors and windows
According to research, 67% of burglars gain entry through a door and 29% gain access through a window so making sure your doors and windows are secure will help to prevent break ins.
Check your windows and doors to make sure all of the locks are intact and working properly. Having incorrect locks, broken locks or locks that you don’t use can invalidate your home insurance so it’s even more important to make sure these are sorted.
Potential intruders will look for signs that you are not security conscious and look for ways they can easily gain access to your home. Make sure you don’t leave keys in the back door, close and lock windows, remove window keys from the windows and hide any other keys so they can’t be seen and are not easily accessible.
Never run your Christmas lights through open windows that then cannot be closed or locked properly. This makes access extremely easy for burglars. Install automatic lights and keep your windows closed and locks to help keep intruders away.
9. Consider CCTV
Visual deterrents such as CCTV systems and security cameras can keep burglars away at any time of the year but particularly during the Christmas period when you can’t always be there to keep an eye on your home and when it’s more vulnerable.
A home CCTV system will help to provide peace of mind that your home and Christmas presents are kept secure. Systems such as Smartphone CCTV installations will allow you to keep an eye on your home when you’re not there.
CCTV can also act as a huge deterrent to criminals, especially when it comes to pre-planned crimes. It means that intruders are much less likely to target your home, keeping your belongings secure and increasing the safety of your home. Make the most of your CCTV by advertising it’s presence outside your property to make sure it’s clear to intruders and to help keep them away.
In the same way as seeing a mounted alarm system, an intruder who sees cameras might decide its easier and safer to go elsewhere.
There are a number of steps you can take to either deter intruders from your home or make it much harder for them to gain access. Staying vigilant can help to keep your home, belongings and family safe and will mean that you can enjoy your Christmas holidays.
We hope these tips help you to feel more secure at home this Christmas. If you’d like any more advice or would like to install CCTV in your home, please contact our team.