Burglary: Met Police gives advice to protect your home
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An alarming total of 18,540 burglaries are predicted to take place across the UK this year, with £7.8 million in Christmas gifts expected to end up in the wrong hands. Burglaries, in general, are on the decline in the UK, but authorities are urging people not to become complacent, with the festive season a particularly prime time for home invasions.
According to new research conducted by comparethemarket.com, London is the UK’s worst hotspot for Christmas burglaries.
The study showed a shocking 5,209 London homes are predicted to be burgled this festive season, a rate equivalent to 168 break-ins every day throughout December.
Following London is the West Midlands, with 1,671 predicted burglaries, and West Yorkshire with 1,288 predicted in December.
While the numbers for regions outside the capital are significantly lower, authorities are urging people to take some basic steps to safeguard their homes this Christmas.
How can you keep your home safe?
Christmas should be a time of merriment, celebration, family and presents.
But it’s also a time of year rife with home burglaries, with thieves hoping that extra Baileys went to your head and perhaps you forgot to lock the front door?
Here are four tips to keep your home safe and make sure your gifts don’t end up in the wrong hands.
1. Check your doors and windows
Weak points in doors, locks and windows are the most likely way for a thief to enter your home, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.
Property expert Thomas Goodman said: “Many people believe that a burglar would never enter through the front door.
“Seasoned burglars know exactly where to search for the spare key you’ve ‘hidden’.”
A spokesperson for comparethemarket.com added: “When checking your entry points for weak spots, ensure you’re keeping your doors’ strike plates as securely fastened as possible (the metal plate affixed to where your door locks).
“You can also consider purchasing protective covers for your locks.”
Make sure you check all entry points before you go out or go to bed.
2. If you’re away, don’t make it obvious
Things like lights off, no car in the drive and bins out for collection all indicate to potential criminals that no one is home.
Using lights or a radio on a timer can be a clever way to use technology to confuse a thief who might be keeping an eye on your home.
If you have friendly neighbours, ask them to help by taking your bin out and occasionally parking in your drive.
But note that burglars are often known to their victims – don’t ask anyone for help if you don’t trust them.
NimbleFins Insurance, which analysed crime and burglary statistics from the annual Crime Survey for England and Wales, concluded: “One in four burglary incidents are perpetrated by someone the victim knows well; in one in five cases they are known by sight or to speak to.
“The burglars are complete strangers in just over half of incidents (57 percent).”
3. Don’t advertise your gift loot
Many people in the UK like to put their Christmas tree up in their front window and pile gifts up beneath it.
This might look good to your neighbours, but it’s just an advertisement for a thief to nick your loot!
The same goes for social media – don’t make a big show of the valuable content you have in your home.
James Bores from Bores Security Consultancy said: “It’s fairly easy for someone with the right knowledge of searching to identify someone, find their address, work out where the picture was taken, friends, relatives, workmates, where and when they go on holiday, and almost anything else that’s ever been made public.
“So much personal data has leaked over the years that it’s almost guaranteed your address and phone number is recorded against your name somewhere.
“And anyone who knows where to go can pay a few quid for access to these details.”
4. Get some insurance
Buildings and contents insurance will cover your home if there is a break-in – as long as you have met all of the policy requirements.
Check with your insurance company if any alarms and/or security cameras you have must be activated every time you leave the property unoccupied.
Photograph your possessions and keep the pictures safe, and, with Christmas presents and other new purchases, keep hold of the receipts.
These will be proof of ownership if you need to claim.
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