Crime at Christmas: Protecting Your Home During the Festive Season

We work so hard to give our families the Christmas they deserve. Lots of us start saving and buying presents early on in the year, so we can be sure we can afford what we need. We spend hours browsing through gifts to find the perfect thing, and generally put a lot of thought and effort into the occasion. So there’s nothing more horrifying than the idea of someone coming into your home, and taking the items that you’ve worked so hard to get for those you love. Unfortunately, it does happen. There’s always a wave of crime that occurs over Christmas and burglaries are up there on the list. Thieves know that homes are chock full of new and expensive items that they can easily sell on for personal gain. It’s important that you’re aware of the risks, and that you’re doing all that you can to protect your home.

Don’t put presents under the tree

Nothing looks as wonderfully festive as lots of beautifully wrapped gifts bursting out from under the Christmas tree. But from a home safety point of view, you’re much better off keeping them hidden. Opportunistic criminals peer through windows and look into houses, a property which has gifts right out on show is going to be a lot more tempting. In many cases, houses are chosen in burglaries just because they look the easiest, so anything you can do to put them off is important. Keep gifts hidden away, up in the loft is a smart move. Not only will it prevent curious children from poking around at their gifts, but if someone does break in, it’s not an area they’ll easily be able to get to. Most burglaries happen within ten minutes, so just moving things to a place they’re not immediately accessible could be the difference between them being taken and not being found.

Invest in good security systems

Good security systems are important for all year round, and are a solid investment for your home. A professionally fitted burglar alarm can give you peace of mind if the worst were to happen and someone got it, they simply wouldn’t stick around with an alarm going off. CCTV can act as both a deterrent, and also a way to identify anyone trying to get in. Companies like Lifeshield cameras have wireless models meaning they're easy to install. You could even look into smart CCTV which allow you to monitor your cameras from your smartphone. Another way to improve your homes security is to upgrade your locks. Older styles can easily be kicked in or jimmied with a crowbar or other metal tool. Newer locks tend to have longer bars and are far more secure. If your front door has glass or any kind of window, you’ll want to install a lock which only locks with a key. If you currently have the kind of lock that can be opened from the inside, a burglar could smash the glass, reach in and unlock it to let themselves in. One of the most important things to remember is that in a majority of burglary cases, the criminal actually lets themselves in through an unlocked door or window. This means that you can have the best security systems in the world, but if you overlook the obvious you could become a target of crime. Create a ‘locking up’ routine where you go through the home checking windows and doors and set the alarm before leaving. That way you’re not leaving anything up to chance.

Make your home look occupied

Christmas is a time for seeing loved ones, and there will be many times throughout the festive season that you’re away from home, visiting friends and family and meeting up with the people that matter. An unoccupied home is a perfect target for a burglar, so you need to be careful. Smart home is very effective, you can control lights, lamps, plug sockets and more from your phone even when you’re away from home, giving the impression that someone is in when they’re not. Especially useful for this time of year, as well as in the summer when you’re off on your annual vacation. If you’re ever working late and your home is empty, you can put on the lamp remotely. Anyone watching your property will see lights and things like appliances being turned on and off, and be under the impression that someone is home. Smart home has really taken off in recent years, it can make your life easier and is a lot of fun- but does serve a very practical purpose when it comes to home security. You can even buy ‘smart blinds’ which you can open and close from your phone- you really can give the impression that someone is at home. With burglars it’s all about risk and reward, someone being home means more chance of getting caught- so they’re unlikely to attempt it if they think someone is in.

Think about your garden

When it comes to gardening, most of us have retired our tools for the year with the plan of ‘I’ll sort it again in spring.’ However, over the autumn, shrubs and trees could have grown wild and these can provide cover for a criminal. It might not be the best weather for getting out into the yard, but it’s important from a security perspective. Hedges should be no higher than waist height, cut back shrubs and prune tree branches too. These might make your garden feel private, but they allow a thief to stand in your garden and try and prise open the door or window without being seen from the street. In the back garden, any tools, ladders and other items should be locked away. In many cases, burglars will use items from their victims own garden to gain access. Install floodlights at the front and back of your home to stop thieves from having the cover of darkness. Set these to come on when someone walks down the path, and so they stay on for a number of minutes after being activated.