Your holidays beckon, you’ve been counting the days. All that remains is to pack – and to secure your house before leaving. Since most burglaries happen when nobody’s home, rigorously locking up is important for your peace of mind.
Although an insurance company will most likely compensate for a burglary where your home has been properly secured, it won’t stop you re-living a break-in. People whose homes have been burgled often feel uneasy in their homes long afterwards, so it makes sense to protect yours while you are away. Here’s what we recommend:
Make sure that your home insurance is up to date. You’d be surprised how often people forget to renew, only to find that when they need it, it isn’t there. Some insurance policies will be renewed automatically, but double-check yours just in case.
Take preventative measures against opportunistic thieves
Does that smart TV need to be on full view from the road? What about your desktop PC or wireless gadgets such as iPads or games machines? Experienced burglars will search for jewellery in more than just your jewellery box – so hide it in sneaky spots. Since burglars just want to get in and out quickly, they won’t check everywhere. Don’t leave your curtains closed. While it might stop nosey parkers peeking in, it also screams ‘we’re away’. Let’s face it, who keeps their curtains closed all day? In a similar vein, don’t pack your car the night before a trip, as it is just another way of broadcasting to passers-by that you are hitting the road.
Make sure your garden tools are locked away. These can be used to break doors and smash windows, so denying opportunists the tools to get into your home is a job well done.
Make sure all doors and windows are securely locked. You’d be surprised how often people, when running late for a flight or ferry, leave easy openings for burglars.
Royal Mail has a scheme called KeepSafe where for £14 they will hold your mail for up to 17 days. This means a person passing your front door won’t see piles of letters mounting up, another sign that no one’s home. Remember to pause regular deliveries, such as milk and newspapers too.
Timer switches cost as little as £12. You can get the living room lights to switch on and off at a set time, as well as the TV or radio. For a few hundred pounds, you can use a Hive Wi-Fi switching system to give the impression that you’re snugly ensconced on the sofa. Amazon’s Alexa system can even be programmed to switch on the kettle or other devices.
If you like your bike and would like to see it again, lock it to a secure point in the garage with a heavy lock. You’ll find bike locks designed for home use – ones that are too chunky to be carried about – will challenge even the most determined burglar. A £50 investment on a £1,000 bike is money well spent.
Security systems range from basic to advanced. Have you considered Bluetooth locks for your doors? Around £250 will buy you a keyless entry system that can be unlocked with your smartphone or key fob. This allows you to give a friend access without messing with keys (or leaving them under a flower pot by the front door). Some of these systems can be connected to a CCTV or alarm system.
What sort of alarm system would you like? Name your price and there’s one for you, from a dummy alarm box to systems involving motion sensors that phone the police if there’s a break-in. These can be connected to the fire alarm or flood-monitoring systems, to ensure that other risks can be prevented.
Ask a neighbour to keep an eye on your home
For a few bottles of nice wine, he or she might even be willing to gather up your post and mow the lawn. See if they could park in your driveway once in a while. They might also check that your utilities are working, and that no pipes have burst.
Are you happy that nothing else can go wrong - as you sip your mimosa on the beach?
A power surge could start a fire. A frozen pipe could cause the house to flood. And let’s not even contemplate a gas leak. In fact, according to statistics you’re more likely to have a utility problem than a break-in. Some simple checks before you go can make these less likely. Leaving the central heating on low in winter can keep the home above freezing point. If you are using electronic wizardry to switch on TVs and lights, consider surge protection to prevent a power surge and potentially a fire. Surge protection plugs cost as little as £10. So, where were we? Ah yes, mimosa on the beach gazing at the turquoise sea, secure in the knowledge that your house is not burning down!
Don’t announce to the world that you’re about to jet off
While a trip to the Maldives or Africa is indeed exciting, your Facebook followers don’t need to know about it until you get home. You’d be surprised how easy it is for people to track your movements when you provide regular updates on social media. Besides, one of the pleasures of going away is to disconnect from your daily routine. Seriously consider a ‘digital diet’ while you’re away. Brag about your travels, by all means, once you’re home.
Tying it all together
If you spend time securing your home before heading off, you will be rewarded with peace of mind. These six points could well save you from a nasty surprise on your return, should someone or something violate your house. After all an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Bon voyage!