Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?  With the shops advertising like crazy for the perfect gifts, Christmas markets popping up in your nearest town and the Christmas lights being switched on everywhere over the next couple of weeks most people have got their list ready to go!

Remember though, it’s not just you who is planning their Christmas shopping – the burglars have their lists too…

With most people starting to get their gifts over the next few weeks, homes will be filled with the latest gadgets, jewellery and other luxurious items all boxed up in one place.  What more could a burglar ask for?!  Police have released statistics claiming that homes are most vulnerable this time of year as they are left vacant for longer whilst people visit family and friends or are out Christmas shopping.  With insurance claims figures showing November, December and January being the months with the most incidents, it is important to be extra vigilant.  It was also found by the police that as many as a fifth of burglaries required no forced entry as windows and doors had been left open.  Look at your home from a burglar’s point of view and try not to get too distracted by the excitement of the season to lock your property!

Here are a few tips on burglary prevention to make sure you don’t get a nasty surprise when you go back to your present stash to begin the wrapping.

  • Don’t leave gifts on show  If you MUST keep your presents under your tree, keep them out of sight from the windows.  Leaving gifts in branded bags is also a dead giveaway of the value of your items.  At night, remember to close blinds or curtains.  When hiding presents try to avoid the obvious places such as under the bed as these are the first places burglars will look.  They are less likely to get into your attic.
  • Leave lights on  Make your home difficult to gauge if there is someone in or not.  By leaving lights on a timer and drawing curtains it will give the impression you are there.  If you are going away for the whole Christmas period, remember to cancel any milk or newspaper orders and perhaps ask a neighbour to park in your driveway from time to time.
  • Disguise items in your car  Remember to keep your presents out of view in cars as well as at home.  Keep presents low in your boot and cover with your parcel shelf as not to giveaway what is inside.  Park in well-lit areas or secure car parks where possible.
  • Lock windows  Outdoor Christmas lights are often powered by running a cable from inside. This can make it easy to forget about securing windows.  A large majority of burglars gain access via windows, so make sure to lock them before you go to bed or leave the house.  It is better to opt for solar or battery powered lights in order to avoid your home being less secure.
  • Delivery management  With the increase in online shopping there are a lot of deliveries around the festive period.  Don’t arrange to have the driver leave you parcel in a “safe place” as this could be visible outside your property.  Not only will this mean your parcel is likely to be stolen, but it also advertises the fact that there is no one home and could lead to further items being stolen.  Arrange for your parcel to be delivered to a neighbour, relative or workplace.
  • Don’t leave empty boxes outside your home  Having an array of TV, iPad or laptop boxes piled outside your home is a clear indication of what brand new items that are inside.  Rip up boxes and dispose of them properly so you aren’t making yourself a target.
  • Be aware of unknown callers  Although most visitors are genuine, be aware that some may be trying to work out the level of security of your home.  Keep doors locked and expensive items out of view from your hallway.
  • Be cautious on social media  Many burglars now use social media sites to scout their targets.  Be careful not to advertise your whereabouts and give away that your home is unattended.  Also refrain from posting photographs of your expensive gifts as this shows burglars exactly what they could find.
  • Mark your belongings  When buying your Christmas presents, make a note of the model and serial numbers of the products.  Also keep the receipts in a separate place so the burglars cannot return the stolen goods.  When you receive your presents, write your postcode on in permanent marker.  This not only makes them less desirable for burglars, but also means they are more likely to be returned if they are found.
  • Secure garages and sheds  Many people store larger gifts outside their home, for example bicycles.  Make sure your sheds and garages are as secure as your homes.
  • Don’t hide keys  DO NOT leave spare keys outside your home.  Also remember to set your alarm.  An active security system not only protects your home but is a great deterrent for thieves.