These tips could help you keep your home safe from break-ins

Households are being urged to ‘burglar proof’ their homes as much as possible as the nights draw in. 

Theft claims increased by 10 per cent during October and November in 2019, compared to the monthly average between January and September that year, according to data from Aviva. 

While theft claims fell in 2020 when people were spending more time at home, they are beginning to rise again, with an increase of 33 per cent between January 2021 and September 2021.

Threat: Households are being reminded to protect their properties from burglars this winter

Separate data from Halifax Home Insurance revealed the insurer had seen a 107 per cent increase in claims for burglaries between April and October this year.  

The date of the clocks changing also lands on Halloween, when more people may be outside trick or treating or at parties, leaving homes empty for thieves.

Some three in five burglaries occur during the hours of darkness or during dawn or dusk, according to Office for National Statistics data.

Alongside the fact more people are returning to their offices, the nights getting darker could give burglars more of an opportunity to break into people’s homes.

Around a quarter of people admit to leaving upstairs windows open when going out, according to Aviva, while 21 per cent say they have gone to bed and forgotten to lock an external door.

A further 20 per cent have written details of external engagements on calendars – letting anyone who visits know when their homes will be unoccupied – while 15 per cent have left keys on the outside of their door, when letting themselves in.

Sarah Applegate, data insights lead for Aviva, said: ‘Theft claims fell during 2020 when many people were at home more, but we are now beginning to see them creep up again as individuals get out and about.

‘No-one wants an unwelcome visitor, so now is a great time to review home security measures. 

‘Community celebrations, combined with the return to offices, could pave the way to potential break-ins, so we’d urge people to be vigilant, particularly during the darker months.

‘A seasoned burglar will know how to spot a property where nobody’s home and will use calendar events to their advantage – but with a few simple steps, there are ways people can minimise their chance of being targeted.’  

21 per cent of UK residents admit they have gone to bed and forgotten to lock an external door

21 per cent of UK residents admit they have gone to bed and forgotten to lock an external door

Tips to keep your home safe

While your home could be more at risk in the evenings, there are things you can do to protect your property.

1. Lock up your property: Burglars are opportunists and look for easy access, such as an open door or window. 

Thefts can take just a few seconds and can even happen while you’re in your home, so keep doors and windows shut and locked wherever possible.

2. Make your home seem occupied: Use timers or leave lights on if you’re out and aren’t going to get back before dark. 

It’s also a good idea to leave a radio on to give the impression that someone is home.

3. Install a visible burglar alarm and outside lighting: Alarms – or even dummy alarms – can be a strong deterrent. 

Good lighting, particularly motion-detector lights, can make it difficult for burglars to hide while they try to break in.

4. Don’t let thieves go fishing: Never leave anything valuable – documents included – near doors, the letterbox or a window, as thieves can use coat hangers and fishing rods to hook them. Don’t label your house keys either.

Households are advised not to leave their keys on a table by the door in case they get stolen

Households are advised not to leave their keys on a table by the door in case they get stolen 

5. Keep ladders and tools locked away: Most professional thieves don’t carry tools with them – they use yours. So keep sheds and outbuildings locked.

6. Keep your valuables out of sight and away from windows: Consoles, games and DVDs are often high on the list of criminals’ must-haves.

Other favourites include cameras, computers, mobile phones, and jewellery.

7. Password-protect your electronic devices: Keep your cyber-security systems up-to-date. 

Back up everything up in a cloud, and don’t write your passwords down where they can be easily found.

8. Don’t store valuables in the bedroom: Thieves know that’s where most people keep their precious items. Stash them away in different spots around the home.

9. Security mark your property: You can buy kits to mark or etch your belongings. 

Using your postcode with your house or flat number, or the first three letters of the name of your home, will increase the chance of your property being returned to you.

10. Swap glass for something else: Glass panels on doors can be a real weak spot. 

If you think glass could be a problem in your home, think about replacing it with laminated glass or using a film that sticks over the glass to make it harder to break.

11. Don’t invite burglars back: Thieves say one of the things they look for when they break in is your calendar. 

By marking out when you’ll be away – on holiday, for instance – they know exactly when to come back for heavier, bulkier items.