If you're heading away this December, make sure you follow our top 5 tips for keeping your property secure - don't get caught out this Christmas:
1. Lock Up... Thoroughly
We all know how important it is to secure doors and windows when we leave our homes, but that doesn't mean that you can't get complacent once in a while. Make sure you take full advantage of double locks and any bolts and security chains built into your doors and windows, and never leave your keys in any locks, or within easy reach of windows and doors, particularly if you have a cat flap or a letterbox. It's also important to remember to lock up sheds and garages - if you have any valuable bikes or tools that you are not able to lock up outside, you should bring them into your home while you're away.
2. Make Your Home Look Occupied
Consider installing a timer to switch on lights and radios to make it look, and sound, like somebody's home when they're not. The same applies to outdoor lighting which can be a very good deterrent to burglars - the better lit the outside of your property is, the more likely it is that an intruder will be spotted by a neighbour, and this can often be enough of a deterrent to put them off entering your home altogether. It's also important to cancel any regular deliveries, such as milk or newspapers, as if they begin to accumulate on your doorstep, they will giveaway the fact that you've not been around for a while.
3. Don't Make Your Property Accessible
Burglars, like the rest of us, want an easy life. If there are two properties next to each other, they will opt for the one which is easiest to get into. Don't invite criminals into your home by creating entrance points, and make sure that the front and back of your property is kept neat and tidy, giving less places for burglars to hide. Start by locking away any ladders and make sure any fences and gates are kept well maintained and structurally sound. Keep your garden trimmed and be wary of overgrown trees which could conceal an intruder.
4. Conceal Your Gifts and Valuables
When buying gifts for Christmas, avoid putting them under your tree until the last moment - grouping high priced items together is a recipe for disaster when it comes to burglaries, so be cautious and keep your presents separated until the big day. It's also a good idea to draw the curtains to prevent gifts, and other valuables such as TVs and games consoles, being seen from the street. Once the presents have been opened use a UV pen to mark your postcode to prove your identity in case of theft, and for gadgets and electrical items record serial numbers at Immobolise, the national property register. After Christmas take discarded boxes from expensive gifts to the tip instead of leaving them in the bin outside your property, as this will let burglars know what they are likely to find inside your property. If the value of goods in your home is likely to change significantly over Christmas, you should also make sure your home insurance policy is up to date.
5. Don't Broadcast Your Social Calendar
However excited you may be about going away, it's a good idea to keep your plans off social media and public forums, as you never know who could be watching your next move. The same applies for conversations in public places, invite your neighbour in for a cup of tea rather than having a natter on the doorstep about your comings and goings over the festive period.
If you'd like more tips on keeping your home, and yourself, safe, take a look at the guide from West Midlands police on how to prevent crime over the holidays. From all of us at Wolf's, we hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year. If you're considering getting 2015 off to a great start by moving into your dream house, take a look at our property sales and lettings pages, or get in touch with us to discuss your requirements.