Keep burglars at bay this Christmas
Published: Wednesday 21st December 11
Households can minimize the chances of falling victim to crime this Christmas by following a few simple steps.
The festive season often sees an increase in burglary rates as criminals target expensive gifts and presents, plus the large amounts of food and drink that people buy in for the holiday season.
And with many people spending Christmas with friends and family, burglars are always on the lookout for properties that are unoccupied.
Any of the following factors can increase the risk of a break-in:
- side gates left open
- ladders left out, allowing access to otherwise inaccessible windows
- garden tools available to force entry
- untrimmed hedges or high fences preventing natural surveillance
- milk bottles or parcels on the doorstep
- newspapers and mail in the letter box
- unlit houses after dark
Simple steps which can reduce the chances of being burgled include:
- Prevent letterbox burglaries by storing keys away from the front door and out of reach
- Try to keep valuables out of sight from windows - especially your Christmas presents.
- If using exterior fairy lights, don't feed electrical cables through partially open windows as thieves know to look for this. Instead use solar or battery operated lights or install an outdoor socket.
- Install timers which switch lights or radios on and off automatically.
- If going out after dark, draw the curtains, leave some lights on and if possible turn on a radio.
- Install window locks, especially on older windows.
- Dispose of gift packaging carefully. Make sure you only put your rubbish and recycling sacks out just before the collection and do your best to fold cardboard boxes so that they do not advertise your new contents of your home to thieves!
If you are going away for an extended period over Christmas and the New Year:
- Cancel the delivery of milk and newspapers
- Enlist the help of a neighbour, friend or relative to keep a regular eye on your property and keep the front door clear of deliveries and post.
- Encourage that neighbour to park on your drive.
- If you are prepared to leave them a key ask the neighbour to draw curtains switch lights on at night. If snow is on the ground a few footprints will make the house appear inhabited.
- Check your insurance policy. Some insurance policies for contents don't cover you if you are away for more than 30 days.
- Set your burglar alarm.
- If you do not have an alarm, consider investing a few pounds in a dummy alarm box. It may well deter the opportunist thief.
If possible people should also mark their property with a UV pen. Writing their door number and postcode on items like televisions, computers, laptops, music systems and bicycles means that if they are recovered by the police they can be returned to you - and at the same time give police the evidence they need to convict someone of burglary, theft or handling stolen goods.
Another step people can take to protect their belongings is register them for free online on the Immobilise website. It won't cost you a penny and it could ensure that if the worst happens and an item is stolen, it could be traced back to you by the police.
Details stored on Immobilise are used by all UK police forces to trace owners of lost and stolen property. In addition Immobilise is checked daily by a huge range of recovery agencies and lost property offices including Transport for London's lost property office.
Police chiefs in Wandsworth are strongly urging residents to take advantage of this free service. To find out more visit http://www.immobilise.com/.
If you would like general advice on crime prevention, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact your local police safer neighbourhoods team and report issues of concern, or provide information about problems in your area, visit www.met.police.uk/your-area/.