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Security expert at Toolstation Beth Priestley explained burglaries are most likely to occur when homeowners are away on holiday. With the October half-term coming up, Britons can avoid being burgled when away from home by following a few simple hacks.
Cancel any deliveries
Beth explained that a parcel on the front step “is a telltale sign that nobody is at home”. As these start to build up, “it becomes obvious to opportunistic thieves that the house is unoccupied”.
The expert recommended planning ahead by postponing online shopping orders and temporarily cancelling things like milk and newspaper deliveries.
Move valuables from the shed
While people often store things like bikes and power tools, and sometimes more expensive items, in the shed, “it’s a good idea to keep these somewhere more secure while on holiday,” the expert said.
Sheds tend to be less secure than alternatives like houses and garages, and locks can be easily overcome. People should move valuables away from the shed not only to stop them from getting stolen but items left in plain sight can also make the house an easy target for thieves.
Lock tools and ladders away
Beth said: “It might surprise you to hear that most burglars don’t carry the equipment needed to help them break in. Rather, they are opportunist thieves who look for tools to help them break in that can be found outside your home.”
For this reason, it’s important to lock items like tools and ladders away, especially when people are on holiday.
Avoid discussing holiday plans with strangers
It is believed that around 43 percent of burglars live close by, and according to ADT’s research, burglars are often people the homeowners know, such as friends or family members.
Beth advised: “This is why it’s a good idea to avoid discussing your travel plans with anybody apart from close friends and family.”
Check windows and doors are locked
Although it may sound obvious, many people don’t lock their doors and in fact, 25 percent of burglars gain entry through an unlocked window or door.
Beth added that this will invalidate your home and contents insurance, “so it’s paramount to ensure every door and window is tightly locked when leaving your home unattended”.
Be wary of posting on social media
Recent studies suggest that thieves are increasingly turning to social media to figure out when homeowners are away. “Consider making your accounts private or refrain from posting about your holiday until you return home,” the security expert recommended.
Use automatic timer switches
Plug-in timers allow people to programme electrical devices to automatically come on at certain times. “This is a great way to make it look like somebody’s in the house while you’re away,” Beth said and suggested: “You could programme the radio to come on for a few hours during the day and table lamps to switch on in the evening.”
Experts at home security system company ADT agreed and said that “turning lights on around the home gives the appearance of occupancy”.
Hide valuable items from view
For obvious reasons, Britons should hide valuables away when going on holiday. “You’ll also want to make sure valuables are hidden from view as much as possible, especially if you live on the ground floor or on a busy street,” Beth added.
Experts at ADT said when burglars enter a home “the most likely items to be stolen are small, valuable items that are left in plain sight and it can make a huge difference if you hide your most valuable possessions before you leave home”.
According to ADT’s recent research, the items burglars look for the most are purses, wallets, money and cards. “Cash is untraceable so preferable for thieves, and most check under your mattress, in the cupboards and in all the hiding places you’d never think they check,” they said. Thieves also look for jewellery and watches, computer and other equipment such as laptops, tablets and game consoles.
Finally, the experts recommended joining a local community group, such as Neighborhood Watch, to raise awareness of crime in the community.
“It might also be a good idea to join local community groups online for your area, such as Facebook/WhatsApp groups, to keep up to date with what’s going on, what’s being shared in your town, or if there is anything you should be on the lookout for, eg. door knocking scams,” they explained.
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