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Happy holidays – keep your home safe while you’re away

Days are getting longer, the sun is shining and many of us are looking forward to our holidays. Unfortunately many of the people we visit have called us after a burglary, because they want their homes to be more secure.

Paul Golley, Northamptonshire’s Crime Prevention Team Leader says: “Most offenders are opportunistic; they don’t plan to enter a specific property. They are looking out for changes in patterns. There’s a higher chance of a burglary when you’re on holiday because of the noticeable signs that your home is empty.”

Burglaries can increase during the holiday season and the most likely properties to be targeted are those where it is clear the owners are on holiday. Here are some ideas to help keep your property and valuable belongings safe while you enjoy your break.

Before you go away

Cut your lawns and trim hedges just before you go, especially at the front of your home. This will make the front of your house more visible and will minimise the risk of someone noticing the tell-tale overgrown look of a home without a gardener.

Cancel newspapers or any other regular deliveries so that they don’t pile up.

Did you know that the Royal Mail offers a Keepsafe service? They will postpone delivering your mail until you get home so that potential burglars won’t see mail left in your letterbox or on the doormat. It takes some advance planning though, as at least five days’ notice is needed.

Leave a key with a trusted neighbour and, if possible, ask them to use your driveway sometimes while you are away or to open and close curtains for you to give the impression that someone is at home.

Another great way disguise an empty house is to use timer switches to turn lights on and off in your home.

It’s a good idea to avoid mentioning that you are going on holiday on social media. Even if your privacy settings are restricted to friends and family only, it is still safest to assume that someone could accidentally pass on the information that you’re away.

If you have an alarm system, make sure it’s set. Paul Golley says this is an effective deterrent and at the very least will reduce the time a burglar might spend in your home to a few minutes.

Give a neighbour a temporary code to your house alarm, if this option is available on your system, or leave your code with them and change it on your return. If a spider on the sensor triggers your alarm accidentally, for example, this will mean there is someone on hand to check your property and to reset the alarm, having confirmed that everything is alright. Remember to let your alarm company know the details of your temporary key holder.

Check with your insurers that you will continued to be covered for the whole time you are away.

When you set out

Of course, you’ll want to be sure that your home is safely locked up – surprisingly one in four of all illegal entries are through unlocked doors and windows – so it’s worth double-checking. Your last-minute check should include side gates, garages and sheds too.

Pay special attention to the back of the house. It is often more private, making it easier for a burglar to enter and leave without being seen.

Remember cat and dog flaps too – an enterprising burglar can reach inside and open some locks if pet doors aren’t secured.

Burglars are usually looking for easily portable items like jewellery, cash and keys. Consider moving cash and other valuable items, including things that are of sentimental value and important papers, to a bank or other safe location while you are away.

Hide all your keys too, including car keys, out of sight and away from the letterbox – just in case someone could use a tool to hook onto your keys. But remember to tell your neighbour where you have put them.

It’s not advisable to put your full home address on your luggage labels – potential burglars have been known to collect holiday-makers’ addresses from luggage in airport terminals for instance.

When you get back

It’s a good idea to save your holiday pictures until you get home, before posting them on your social media sites.

It might be great to share views of you and your family on the beach, in a café or restaurant, but if they are passed on it gives a clear message that you are away from home.

Some other suggestions:
  • install good outside lighting
  • make sure the fences around your garden are secure and in good condition
  • secure bikes and barbeques at home by locking them to an immoveable object inside a locked shed or garage
  • keep ladders and tools stored away; don’t leave them outside where they could be used to break into your home
  • mark your valuable items with postcode and house number
  • register your property for free with Immobilise
  • consider joining or forming a Neighbourhood Watch scheme
  • remove valuable items from view of ground floor windows.

We are always happy to discuss your home security needs, so please get in touch for an informal chat.