Advice from HomeProtect on how to keep your home safe and secure this Christmas.
Did you know – Insurers have urged householders to keep Christmas gifts secure after dealing with claims totalling £35m in the UK last December. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said that insurers received 23,000 burglary claims during December in 2011.
1. Hide gifts: Make sure gifts and valuables, wrapped and unwrapped, are out of view and not visible from any windows. Same applies in the car too.
2. Bikes: 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, write your postcode 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. Inventory: Make an inventory (list and photos) of the most important and/or valuable stuff in your home and keep the list in a safe place (not on a laptop, in case that gets stolen!). You could use Immobilise www.immobilise.com – the online personal belongings inventory service.
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 inside your home.
7. Alarm wiring: For the most effective alarm system, check that all wiring is fully concealed. A burglar could look for places to disconnect the security system.
8. Outbuildings: Don’t leave spare keys outside or in a garage or shed. Keep garden sheds and garages locked at all times.
9. Window lock keys: Don’t leave window keys in their locks.
10. Fire guard: Have a spark proof guard in front of all open fires.
11. Smoke detectors: Make sure your smoke detectors are working correctly. 1 in 3 smoke alarms fail to work mainly due to missing or dead batteries.
12. Burglar alarm: If you have a faulty alarm that frequently goes off, get it fixed immediately and tell your neighbours that it’s been repaired. 25% of people ignore an alarm that goes off regularly!
13. Messages: Don’t leave “I’m out” or “Back in 5 mins” notes for service people or family members on the door.
14. Kitchen cupboards: Stash your small valuables inside boxes and cans in the kitchen. That’s the last place burglars will look!
15. Lost key cover: If you lose your keys, change the locks immediately. HomeProtect offers Lost Key Cover with your home insurance policy providing up to £1,500 of cover for locksmiths charges, new locks & keys, car hire and onward transport costs following the loss of your keys. Covers home keys, office keys and car keys.
16. Emergency tel nos: Phone 101 to contact your local police team in a non-emergency situation, or 999 if it’s an emergency.
If you’re going away this Christmas…
17. Neighbours: Either… Ask a trusted neighbour to help make the house look occupied: to call in every now and then, to turn the lights on and off, draw the curtains, collect the post etc.
18. Security measures: Or… Visible burglar alarms, exterior security lighting, indoor timer lighting switches and leaving the radio on will all help to give the impression that somebody is at home.
19. Answerphones: Never leave an answer machine message indicating that you are not at home.
20. Deliveries: Cancel your newspapers, magazines, vegetable boxes and milk deliveries.
21. Rubbish bins: A home without rubbish shows burglars no-one is at home. Ask a neighbour to put rubbish in your bin whilst you are away.
22. Car on driveway: Leave a car in your driveway while you are away.
23. One last check: Don’t forget to lock everything and set your burglar alarm before you go away!