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Protecting your property this Christmas

Sat 12 Dec 2015

In our earlier blog post, we talked about the importance of being properly insured over the Christmas period and remembering that all of those extra gifts will really drive up the contents value of your home.

When working out your cover, insurers will often make their decision based on how secure your property is, and improving your security can help you to get the best possible deal. At the same time, it can give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have done everything possible to ensure your home is safe and secure from all the Scrooges out there looking to steal your fun. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so padlocks at the ready!

Fortunately, burglary is less common than you may think, and the chance of being burgled today is the lowest it has been for 20 years. It is largely an opportunistic crime, with burglars looking for the easiest way to get in and out of a property with the fewest obstacles in their way. The reality is that only Santa Claus would choose to make the risky chimney entrance. In two in every ten burglaries, no force is used to gain access to a property and in three in ten, the burglar simply uses an open window. So this Christmas, make sure you take away the thief’s window of opportunity.

When it comes to reviewing your own security at home, the obvious place to start is with the doors and windows. Take a stroll around your property and check that all windows and external door frames are secure. If you don’t already, have strong locks fitted to all doors and windows, remove the keys and keep them somewhere safe. Have some additional sturdy dead locks fitted to the external doors and, to the front door especially, fit a safety chain and get a little bit James Bond by having a spy hole installed. Remember that the strongest lock in the world is no use if a burglar has the key, so if you’re keeping it under the flowerpot or doormat, you need to reconsider as this is the best Christmas gift for a potential thief.

Next, think about the outside of your property. If it is well lit then an opportunistic thief may think twice, so have a security light fitted to light up the approaches to your property – putting them in the spotlight will be an added stress. These lights can be very bright and unpleasant if they are shining through a bedroom window, so speak to your neighbours first to let them know what you are doing and check that it will not cause them any annoyance.

Insurers often recommend that your home is protected by an intruder alarm and positioning it so that it is visible from the street will act as a warning to unwanted visitors. Get into the habit of setting it when you leave the house as there is no point investing in it if you aren’t going to use it.

The majority of burglars break into a house from the back, so high walls or fences that are at least 1.8 metres high and enclose the rear garden are a good idea, with any gate secured by a key operated lock or a sturdy padlock. Make a sweep of your front and back gardens, locking up any tools, ladders or garden furniture that could help someone gain access to your home – you don’t want to be an accessory to the burglary of your own home!

For those who enjoy a spot of gardening, growing prickly shrubs and bushes underneath downstairs windows is a novel yet effective way to make a potential burglar’s life difficult. Meanwhile, don’t let high hedges provide them with a handy hiding place, so keep these trimmed.

Back inside, don’t leave keys near the front door where they could be reached through the letter box, keep all ground floor windows shut when sleeping and, where possible, don’t leave the Christmas presents out where they can be seen through the window- even if you want to show off your iPhone 6. Leave the dazzling window displays to John Lewis!

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