As Christmas approaches, homes will be filled with gadgets and expensive gifts. But just as you are looking forward to giving and receiving those festive goodies, burglars are looking forward to stealing them from you.
There's never a better time to step up your home security – here are 11 festive security tips compiled with the help of the DIY security company Swann.
1. Hide presents
Even if you don't have children to hide presents from, make sure criminals can't see them through your windows and doors by hiding them in cupboards and under beds.
2. Look lived in
If you're going away for Christmas, make the house look lived in. Turning on lights when no one's at home in winter can deter burglars. You can buy timers that will turn lights on automatically, or just ask a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your property, open and close curtains and put lights on.
If you're going away, ask a neighbour to park their car in your driveway to make it look like someone's home.
3. Look out for suspicious behaviour
Keep an eye on any suspicious behaviour in the neighbourhood. Security cameras for inside and outside the home can enhance your home security and peace of mind, but as they're not within everyone's budget, being vigilant has to be the next best thing.
4. Triple check your locks
Make sure all windows and doors are firmly shut and locked when leaving home. Leaving an entry path slightly open is a temptation for a burglar.
5. Don't leave notes
Don't leave notes for couriers saying no one's in. Make sure you've sent instructions about where to leave parcels if you're out.
6. Hide packaging
Make sure all packaging is ripped up and buried in bins, so criminals can't easily see what’s been added to an already festive-filled house.
7. Keep trees and gifts away from windows
Don’t openly display your Christmas tree and gifts in the front window so it’s easily visible from the street. It can be tempting for criminals to smash the window and grab wrapped packages.
8. Turn your outside lights on. And then off
Make sure your outside lights aren't burning 24 hours a day, and newspapers or advertising flyers aren't piled up through your letterbox. Again, you might need to ask a neighbour to collect your mail and free papers if you go away.
9. Give a trusted neighbour a spare key
Burglars know to look for the hidden door key near the front entrance. Don’t hide spare keys under rocks, in flowerpots, or above door ledges. Instead give the spare key to a trusted neighbour.
10. Don't run electricity cords through window cracks
Burglars prefer to enter through unlocked doors or windows, so an electricity extension cord running through an open window to exterior Christmas lights can be an open invitation. Hire an electrician to install an inexpensive exterior outlet for festive outdoor lights.
11. Check your home phone's answering machine message
Make sure your family name isn't visible outside your house, like on a mailbox. Criminals can get your number from directory enquiries and call your home to confirm there's no one in. And don’t leave descriptive telephone answering machine messages like “We’re away skiing for Christmas, please leave a message.” Burglars love to hear they have plenty of time to ransack your home.