If you’re on holiday for Christmas or New Year’s, you’ll be aware this can be a particularly dangerous time when it comes to theft and burglary.
Not everyone has enough Christmas spirit, and if you don’t protect your home well enough you may come back to a nasty surprise.
Read our handy guide to keeping your home and treasured items (as well as those gifts) safe this festive season.
Tell a trusted neighbour
If you have a neighbour or loved one that you trust nearby, let them know you’ll be gone and ask them to keep an eye on your property. Give them your phone number in case of emergency, but let them know to always call the police first in case they see anything suspicious.
If you feel comfortable, you can also give your neighbour a spare key and ask them to visit every so often to show a presence, switch lights on and off, and open and close curtains, or take the bins out.
Get rid of giveaway boxes
Large or expensive items such as new TV’s, computers, luxury clothes or designer jewellery can come with a lot of large, flashy packaging. If you leave this out for kerbside recycling, a thief can simply walk along and check your bin for evidence that your home is worth breaking into.
This is a particualrly pertinent point at this time of year – so remember to break down this kind of packaging, and cover it in the bin with plain cardboard or household recycling.
Better still, do a run to the dump or recycling facility before you go. And never, ever leave large boxes that are too big to be broken down behind your bins!
Install smart lights
Smart lights make it easy to set up an “away” routine so it looks like the house is occupied, even when it’s not.
Systems like Philips Hue or LifX are incredibly simple to set up – no wiring is required – and they work with remote assistants like Google Home and Alexa.
Smart lights can be controlled by an app wherever you are, so if you’re worried about a savvy burglar working out the lights are automated, you can switch them on and off at random – or even set them to a randomised schedule.
Nothing will deter a watching burglar more than seeing the toilet light come on at 2.34am, then going off again three minutes later…
Buy a video doorbell
If a thief is bold enough to knock on the door to determine whether your property is occupied, a doorbell with a video and speaker function will let them know someone is watching.
These doorbells allow you to view whoever is at the door from your phone, wherever you are, and ones with speaker functions let you hear and speak as well.
Tell them you’re home, and they’ll be none the wiser. Though most of them are savvy enough to avoid houses with these devices altogether, and look elsewhere for some easy pickings.
Set up an alarm system
Home alarm systems are now highly secure, and some of the most modern solutions come with smart technology that alerts you to suspicious activity wherever you are.
Some are discrete, while others are large and brightly coloured to deter would-be intruders. More importantly, though, many are able to send still images or even video of the intruders to your phone, and automatically alert the alarm central monitoring station, or indeed the guards – and the added security will generally reduce your home insurance premium.
Pause the post
If you’ll be away for a long time, guard against post piling up in plain sight by asking the postal service to pause delivery and keep your mail safe until you’re back.
If you’ve got a glass door or external postbox, too many letters are a dead giveaway your home is unoccupied. If you’re only away for a few days, consider investing in a letterbox cage to keep them off the floor – and at very least, add it to the checklist for your visiting neighbour.
Lock, lock and double-lock
It’s common sense – to the point where we need hardly say it – but you’d be surprised how often these things get missed.
When you leave, lock every possible entry into your home, including deadbolts. This isn’t just common sense; it has a real and material impact on the amount you can expect to pay for your home insurance premium.
You might not consider a second-floor window left ajar when you leave for work, but if a burglar spots it – or notices that no one comes to close it after a couple of days, particularly in the dead of winter – it could be both a giveaway and a point of entry.
Get rid of the ‘hidden’ keys in the garden
While great in an emergency, spare keys hidden in the garden can let a burglar into your house as easily as possible – and even worse, your insurance cover may be affected if you’ve left keys in plain sight.
Ideally take the keys with you, or lock them up inside the home, if you’ve not given them to a neighbour or house sitter.
At the very least make sure they’re not hidden anywhere obvious like a fake rock or under the mat. We’ve heard of people burying them in flowerbeds, in small tupperware boxes or cling film – which may not be particularly convenient when you’re returning home from the Christmas party at 1am without your keys, but might just keep your house that bit more secure.
Taking these simple measures will give you peace of mind to enjoy the festive season. Opportunistic thieves take no holidays, so make sure you make your property the hardest one possible to break into.
How to protect your home and contents
It’s essential that you have the correct level of Home Insurance in place for your house and contents. You may also have valuable items that you would like covered such as jewelery or home appliances. You should talk to your insurer to ensure that these items are covered. There may be an additional cost on your Home Insurance to cover these items.
Talk to Us in QuoteMe.ie with any of your Home Insurance Questions
If you have any questions regarding your home insurance please call us on 0818 224433 or 042 9359051 and talk to one of our Home Insurance experts. They are on hand to answer all your questions. You can also get an instant home insurance quote online. We compare the market to get you the best cover. We look forward to hearing from you.