It’s the perfect time of year for opportunist thieves. It’s dark, people are often away from home, and there’s more around to take.
The cost of an average burglary claim goes up by 14% in the winter compared to the summer, according to Halifax home insurance. But it’s not all about material possessions. Burglaries are costly and stressful, and items with sentimental value can be impossible to replace.
So, what’s useful to know, and what can we do to secure our homes? The following video (with transcript and further tips below) contains advice from a professional locksmith on how to protect your home and belongings without breaking the bank.
- Thieves are most likely to strike between midnight and 1am.
- Use dummy security devices over none at all.
- Standard UPVC locks can be vulnerable. Consider upgrading.
- Basic vigilance: user timer-lights and don’t leave keys in sight.
- Ensure your home and contents insurance is sufficient in case you become a victim.
The most popular single hour for a break-in is between midnight and 1am. Stay alert!
According to Halifax home insurance, there’s a 14% increase in the cost of a burglary claim in the winter compared to the summer, with the cost of an average claim a hefty £1,746. We’re here to find out how to protect our homes from the burglars this winter.
I’m here with Miles, who is a locksmith by trade, so he’s the expert on how to secure our homes this winter.
Miles, everyone hopes it’ll never happen to them – that they’ll be burgled – but it could. So what are your top tips for securing our homes this winter?
Burglars love the dark, as they’re less likely to be seen, obviously. In fact, the most popular single hour for a break-in is between 12am – 1am. So the obvious solution here is to install security sensor floodlights or similar. In addition to that, other visuals could include even a dummy alarm system box or even dummy CCTV camera.
Miles Hartzel, Essential Locksmiths
LED floodlighting is both economical and versatile. Unlike halogen lighting, LEDs can be directed on specific areas to enhance your security presence. They also use up to 80% less power. See our article from Meteor Electrical for more details.
We’ve looked at the outside. What about when they come in? What about the locks on our doors?
There are different types of doors. You’ve got the wooden doors and they require a 5-lever mortis deadlock that meets British standards. And in addition to that, you’ve got the UPVC door. The requirement on a UPVC door – a composite door where you lift the handle – a lot of them come with a basic Euro cylinder, which is easily breakable – literally, it snaps. So what I recommend to my customers is to upgrade this to a high-security anti-snap lock.
What about our windows?
Windows should always be locked, when you have the locks on them. If you don’t have locks, we can install locks. On a first floor or above, where there is a flat roof – some type of platform, it’s always recommended to add secondary security.
You mentioned using fake alarms and cameras. What if somebody actually wanted to install a proper alarm in their home? What would you recommend?
With regard to alarms, it’s highly recommended that you use an insurance-proved alarm, ideally which is connected to a call centre, so in the event of an alarm going off, rather than it annoying your neighbours for 20 minutes with a siren, you will receive a call, and if you’re not available or you tell them otherwise, they’ll send the police.
What about some really inexpensive, simple things that everybody can do to help secure their homes this winter?
If you’re away for the weekend, or on holiday, I would highly recommend putting some timer lights in. In addition to this, I would also suggest that you don’t leave any keys lying around that are viewable from your letterbox, because they’re known to be fished out with magnets and all different wonderful things. And also, tell your neighbours, so if the bins are going out, make sure they put them back. Don’t leave post that’s on the floor because people will peep through the letterbox and they’ll see there’s nobody there. So there’s a few ideas.
In the winter we see an increase in burglary claims because the darkness provides perfect cover for opportunist thieves. Over your lifetime, you’ll spend an awful lot of money furnishing your home, buying things, presents, jewellery, and the like, finishing it up to a really good standard. If that ever disappears, through someone breaking in, one of the things that people don’t often appreciate is the stress that a burglary can bring to the household. The loss of items with a sentimental value, such as photographs and videos, as well as the devastation that’s caused by the thieves, can cause tremendous anxiety for people.
If you’re not adequately insured, you may never recover from that in your lifetime. So it’s really important that you ensure that your household insurance cover and your contents cover is sufficient to provide for you to replace those items.
Martyn Foulds, Halifax Home Insurance
Remember, if you’re unfortunate enough to be burgled this winter, call the police, get an incident number, and then make contact with your home insurer. They can assist you with any damage or loss that has occurred. But it’s always better not to have to deal with a burglary. Don’t take any chances. Use our handy tips and secure your home this winter.