Everyone needs a holiday some time. But we all want to come home and find everything as we left it.
Almost half of all burglaries happen when a flat or house is empty. By following these top tips you can help make your home more secure while you're away.
General tips on home security:
- Fit mortise locks (Kitemarked BS 3621) or bolts to all outside doors, and locks to all downstairs or easily accessible windows.
- Have an approved alarm system installed- ask your local police and insurance company for advice.
- Try not to leave valuable items like your TV, hi-fi, video or DVD, where thieves can see them.
- Mark belongings visibly and permanently with your postcode and house number. Keep a list of the make, model and serial number of these items and take photos of any valuable items that can't be marked, like jewellery. Give copies of the list and photos to a trusted friend or relative.
- Ask at your local police station for advice on how to get "postcoded property" stickers that you could put in your windows.
- Make sure that you have up to date contents and buildings insurance.
- Most burglars get in through a back door or window. Make it difficult for them by locking all side or back gates and adding trellis to the top of walls and fences. Fit lights that come on at night to cover the sides and back of your house.
- Put all your tools away so they cannot be used to break into your house and lock your garage and shed with proper security locks. If you have to leave a ladder out, put it on its side and lock it to a secure fixture with a "close shackle" padlock or heavy duty chain.
Before you go:
- Make your home look like someone is living in it. Don't close your curtains- in daytime this shows the house is empty. Use automatic timer-switches to turn your lights on when it goes dark.
- Cancel any milk or newspaper or other deliveries.
- Avoid discussing holiday plans where strangers may hear details of your absence from home.
- Cut the lawn before you go and trim back any plants that burglars could hide behind.
- Uncollected mail is a sign that you are away. The Royal Mail's "keepsafe" service will keep your mail for up to 2 months while you are away.
- Consider leaving important documents and valuable items with other family members or a bank. Or lock them in a safe.
- Do not put your home address on your luggage when you are travelling to your holiday destination.
- If you normally leave valuable bikes outside, consider putting them in the shed.
- Finally, make sure you've locked all outside doors and windows and, if you have a burglar alarm, make sure it is set.
Help from your neighbours:
If you have a good relationship with your neighbours, it's a good idea to
- Ask them to collect post.
- Open and close curtains.
- Repay the favour to them and look after their property.
- To make your home more secure while you're away and gain other crime prevention advice and community benefits join neighbourhood watch. You can check if there is a scheme near you by asking at your local police station.
Download your FREE Home Security Guide from the Thames Valley Police website:
The guide contains lots of hints and tips including:
- A range of physical and digital security measures to protect your home
- How to avoid invalidating your home insurance through poor security
- A handy checklist for when you go away.
You can also watch a short video on the Thames Valley Police YouTube channel where victims Jennifer and Sam talk about how they were affected after their home was burgled.