You’re off on holiday, halfway down the motorway and in creep those sneaking doubts: did you lock the back door? Was the bathroom window closed? Are the bikes locked in the shed?
More often than not you’re being paranoid, but there will be times when you’re not - and it’s those rare moments of forgetfulness and lax security when canny burglars strike.
According to a new survey by the Co-operative, a third of homeowners have gone out having left a window open (32%), 13% have managed to leave a door open, while one in five don’t bother setting their burglar alarm.
During summer particularly, missing these basic steps could leave your valuables (sentimental items included) at serious risk, and if you don’t have the right contents insurance, you could be in real trouble.
Apparently 22% of us only guess the worth of our stuff in the first place, leaving us seriously vulnerable when it comes to making a claim.
Caroline Hunter, head of home insurance at The Co-operative, says: “Burglary is not a nice experience for anyone who finds themselves in this situation, yet many security risks can be easily prevented.
"It is easy to be distracted when you’re busy getting ready to go away for the summer holidays, but it is worth taking time to make some quick security checks for your own peace of mind.
“Being vigilant and paying attention to small details can not only help to prevent a burglary in the first place, but this can also speed up the claims process should you need to make one.”
So, how do you go about making sure your home isn’t a shining beacon, beckoning burglars with open arms?
10 top tips to keep your belongings safe:
1. Don’t leave keys in window locks or where they can be seen from outside. It means they can be located more easily by people attempting to break in.
2. Keep track of your keys. Some insurers may want to see evidence of forced entry before deciding whether or not to pay out on a claim, but most would expect to see individuals have taken reasonable precautions when it comes to home security.
3. If you lose your key or it’s stolen and you have good reason to believe it could be traced back to your home address, get your locks replaced.
4. If you have smaller, high-value items you usually leave outdoors or in a shed (like bikes or BBQs), think about bringing them indoors.
5. Make sure outbuildings are locked. Back gates should also be locked.
6. Check fencing is secure.
7. Securing outside ladders will ensure they can’t be used as a tool to help break into your house.
8. If you have a burglar alarm then use it – why wouldn’t you?
9. Report a theft to the police as soon as possible, and obtain a crime reference number to make it easier for your insurer to deal with a claim and increase the chance of the police making a recovery/arrest.
10. Be sensible about the information you post online, and be especially cautious if you plan to go away. Update your social media privacy and security settings on a regular basis.