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Don’t be left in the dark by daylight savings

Don’t be left in the dark by daylight savings

Category: Insurance

Updated: 28/10/2016
First Published: 28/10/2016

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

The clocks go back this weekend and the nights will start to draw in, which means winter is well and truly on its way. Unfortunately, it also means that homes could be left vulnerable, with opportunistic thieves taking advantage of the extra hour of darkness to target empty homes.

Under the cover of darkness

A survey from home insurer Policy Expert found that the average time people get home from work is 5:08pm. This means that workers currently get home in daylight hours, yet by Monday, that will no longer be the case – once the clocks go back on Sunday, it'll get dark at 4:36pm, which means homes will be unattended and shrouded in darkness for 33 minutes.

This length of time will gradually increase over the next couple of months, and by mid-December, the typical home could be left empty and in the dark for one hour and 17 minutes. Not only that, but the 5:08pm return time is just an average – many don't return home until 5:30pm at the earliest, which means homes could be left in darkness for 54 minutes on Monday, and for up to an hour and 39 minutes by mid-December. That could give opportunistic burglars plenty of time to access a property, with the cover of darkness being their camouflage.

Additional figures from The Co-op Insurance show that this is indeed an issue, with there being a significant spike in home and car insurance claims when the clocks change and daylight saving time ends. Their data reveals that home theft claims typically increase by36%in the five months after the clocks go back, with the darker hours making it easier for burglars to not only hide, but to spot unoccupied homes.

Lack of security

Despite this, Policy Expert's survey found a worrying lack of security among its respondents, with many homes not having adequate security measures in place. Just 40% of respondents have timed lights and only 35% have a burglar alarm fitted, while 5% admitted that they have no security in place whatsoever.

"The winter months are a tempting time for opportunistic burglars, so it's unsurprising we see thefts rise over this time," said Adam Powell, head of Operations at Policy Expert. "Longer nights and shorter days mean that there are more opportunities for crime to take place under the cover of darkness, so it's important to remain vigilant and ensure your home is adequately protected."

At the very least, Adam advises to make your home look occupied – such as by putting your lights on a timer – and if you can, having visible deterrents such as CCTV or burglar alarms could help to prevent a break-in. Other top tips include installing sensor-activated external lighting, leaving curtains open and making sure any outbuildings or sheds are locked.

At the most basic level, ensure that valuables are completely out of sight and never leave keys near the front door, as they could be unexpectedly accessible. "Finally, check your home insurance policy to ensure it's up to date and any valuables are declared," adds Adam. "That way, you shouldn't return home to any nasty surprises."

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.