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Protect your home from winter thieves

Protect your home from winter thieves

Category: Home insurance

Updated: 21/10/2015
First Published: 21/10/2015

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 It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Opportunistic thieves can strike at any time, but the cover of darkness makes it easier for them to target promising homes. Sadly, with the clocks due to move back in just a few days' time (25 October), we have to admit that winter is well on its way, and with it comes far more hours of darkness – and far more opportunities for thieves to take things that don't belong to them.

Rise in theft

By analysing claims data going back to 2013, The Co-operative Insurance found that theft claims on home insurance increase by 38% in the five months after the clocks go back to winter time. What's more, these thefts are more likely to involve force or violent entry than in the summer months, which could leave you with more damage to repair.

Homes are not the only places that are vulnerable to attack during the winter months – the research also found that motor insurance claims rose during the cold, bleak months. While the 6% rise can also be attributed to bad maintenance and difficult driving conditions, thefts of and from cars add to the overall total.

Commenting on the research, James Hillon of The Co-operative Insurance, said: "Darker nights unfortunately lead to an increase in home burglaries, so when the clocks change this coming weekend we are urging people to be more vigilant when it comes to home security."

So, how can you protect your home from would-be thieves?

Protect your castle

There are plenty of things you can do to make more thieves think twice about targeting your home.

  1. Turn on the lights. Keeping a few lights on in your home while you're out, or using a light timer, can fool thieves into thinking that you are at home. Security lights at the front and rear of your property can also make it hard for someone to sneak inside unseen.
  2. Don't overshare on social media. Declaring that you're off for a winter break or are going away for the weekend is a great way to signpost that your home is ripe for the picking. Save the posts for after you come back.
  3. Lock it up. It sounds obvious, but check that all your windows and doors are locked every time you go out.
  4. Get a burglar alarm. An alarm system can be a great deterrent. Make sure it is fitted by someone qualified and that you get it checked regularly.
  5. Secure your shed. Thieves may target your shed or outbuildings as well as your house, so make sure they are securely locked and, if necessary, are fitted with security lights.
  6. Hide valuables. Leaving expensive items on display in windows is asking for trouble. Keep them out of sight to keep them safe.
  7. Put your keys away. Keys kept near a letter box can be within grabbing distance, so put them somewhere out of reach.
  8. Get rid of ladders. Leaving ladders outside your home can give thieves an easy route into your house – put them away so they can't be used for a break-in.
  9. Invest in CCTV. This may sound a little extreme, but it could act as a good deterrent. If you can't afford the real thing, dummy cameras set up around your property may do the job.

As a final note, make sure to check your home insurance. If you are unlucky enough to have a break-in, your insurance policy can help to cover the cost of lost valuables and any damage caused. Check that all essential and valuable items are covered, and ensure that it is still in date. If not, or if it's almost time to renew, check out the market to find the best deal.

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.