School’s finally out for summer and for thousands of UK families, it’s time to dig out the passports and start packing for that long-awaited trip. While getting ready to go on holiday can be a stressful time, there’s no comparison with the heartbreak and stress you could experience when returning home to a burglary.
Bearing in mind that 95 percent of burglaries across the UK are not currently being solved according to police data, securing your home is a crucial part of your holiday preparations.
Taking just a few simple steps before you board the plane could make all the difference in protecting your property while you’re away. Here are some tips:
This may be a given, but it’s vital you make it as difficult as possible for potential intruders. Take time before you leave to ensure all windows and doors are closed and locked properly.
In the warm weather, it may be tempting to leave a window or two open to keep the place ventilated, but is it really worth the risk? Remove and hide all keys, including car and window keys, out of sight and away from doors to prevent thieves using a device through the letterbox.
Move any valuable items such as expensive electronics out of view of ground floor windows to prevent tempting would-be burglars, but avoid closing the curtains during the day as this could flag up that your home is empty.
For extra protection, consider locking portable tech including laptops and tablets, jewellery and any other high-value items away, ideally in a properly-secured safe. Also, consider marking and keeping a record of your valuable belongings to help identify them if the worst does happen while you’re away.
In most burglaries, criminals break in through the door by either forcing the lock or kicking it in. Make sure all your exterior doors have deadlocks with a hardened steel bolt and that they are in good working order.
Consider replacing window panes with laminated glass which is much stronger, or applying security film to existing glass to make it more resistant to breakage. Window panels on or around doors are particularly vulnerable, especially if the door can be unlocked from the inside without a key.
Get a professionally-installed burglar alarm, make sure it works and that you know how to use it properly. You could also consider motion-activated security lighting as a deterrent.
There are also loads of smart home security systems available nowadays, which allow you to monitor and control security devices such as cameras wherever you are in the world. Here is some guidance on setting up a home security camera.
Ask a trusted neighbour, friend or family member to keep an eye on the place. While it may not always be possible to get a ‘house sitter’ in, you could ask somebody to drop by to water the plants, pick up the post, open and close the curtains, park their car on your drive and in general keep the place looking lived in.
A pile of mail and papers in the porch could send out a signal to would-be intruders so make sure you cancel any newspaper deliveries, as well as milk. You could also sign up for the Royal Mail’s ‘Keepsafe’ service where they’ll hold on to your mail for up to 100 days, helping protect both your home and identity.
Use automatic timer switches to turn on lights and even radios when it gets dark.
If you’re going away on a longer trip, consider getting somebody to maintain the exterior of the property such as mowing the lawn and keeping the windows clean: an unruly exterior could alert opportunist burglars to your absence.
While your house may be the priority, don’t forget to secure your garden and any outbuildings. Not only could valuable items such as power tools and bicycles be targeted if not properly protected, an unsecure garden could also assist home intruders.
Make sure you lock any side or rear gates, ensure boundary walls or fences are in good repair and store away any ladders, wheelie bins or tools which burglars could use to help gain access. For more tips on protecting your outdoor areas, see our article on improving garden shed security.
Avoid discussing your holiday plans on social media and try to save sharing your pictures until you get home.
Last spring, the home of former England football captain John Terry was reportedly targeted by burglars as he posted holiday snaps on his social media feeds. While you may not have the following of a celebrity footballer, your online activity could still put you at risk by highlighting that nobody’s home, as well as revealing the contents of your property, particularly if organised criminals are monitoring social media.
Consider updating the privacy settings and location setting of your online profiles, and avoid ‘checking in’ at airports, tourist destinations and the like.
Churchill Security is a cross-industry provider of security guards. We provide security guards across the UK and have created tailored security packages for over 20 years. Get in touch to find out more about our expert security guards in the UK.