The long, dark winter nights provide burglars with more opportunity to attempt to break in to vulnerable homes. But the good news is that there are lots of things you can do to discourange unwelcome intruders. Here are 12 great ideas from the Police:
1. Hide valuables
Make sure that any valuables are not visible from any ground floor windows. This particularly applies to Christmas presents – both wrapped and unwrapped. Don't forget to keep them out of sight when they're in your car too.
If Santa brings you a bike for Christmas (lucky you!), register it at www.bikeregister.com
3. Security markings
Mark any expensive gifts you receive for Christmas by writing your postcode on them with a UV pen. This will make it harder for burglars to sell the items and allow police to return them to you. Let your home insurance company know that you have new, expensive items that might need to be itemised on your policy.
4. Gravel driveway or path
Invest in a gravel top layer on your driveway or path and if possible around the perimeter of the house, especially under accessible windows. Gravel makes a loud crunching noise that is more likely to alert you to an intruder approaching the property.
5. Gift packaging
Don't put gift packaging boxes out for recycling or leave it sticking out of your bin, thieves will notice! Store boxes out of sight until you can dispose of them at a local recycling site.
6. Doors and windows
Lock all doors and windows, leave a light on and draw the curtains if you go out after dark. Keep your doors and windows locked from the inside even when you are at home.
7. Burglar alarm
If you have a faulty alarm that frequently goes off, get it fixed and tell your neighbours that it's been repaired. 25% of people ignore an alarm that goes off regularly!
8. Alarm wiring
For the most effective alarm system, check that the alarm wiring is fully concealed. A burglar could look for places to disconnect the security system.
Don't leave spare keys outside or in a garage or shed. Keep garden sheds and garages locked at all times.
10. Window lock keys
Don't leave window keys in their locks.
Don't leave "I'm out" or "Back in 5 mins" notes for service people or family members on the door.
12. Get a safe
Keep your small valuables inside a locked safe. These are relatively inexpensive, especially when you consider the sentimental value of your jewellery or even the photos stored on an external backup drive, and a small safe can easily be tucked under a bed or desk so doesn't need to obtrude into the look of your home.
It's also a good idea to make an inventory (list and photos) of the most important and/or valuable items in your home and keep the list in a safe place (not on a laptop, in case it’s stolen). You could use Immobilise, the online personal belongings inventory service.