As million of Brits prepare to pack their suitcases and head off on their summer holidays, their homes could be a prime target for criminals.
That's the warning from national security firm Croma, which is urging people to think carefully about protecting their homes this summer.
Millions of us are expected to head off on holiday in 2018, with the forthcoming school holidays a catalyst for even more travel in July and August.
But with burglaries on the rise (up 9% on last year according to the ONS), people are being urged to make sure they leave their empty homes as protected as possible.
Roberto Fiorentino, CEO of Croma, says: “What we're seeing on the ground really reflects the national figures and, furthermore, we're seeing a real rise in criminal gangs, who are far more sophisticated when it comes to burglaries.
The summer holidays are a prime opportunity for them to break into homes and get away with thousands of pounds worth of goods, completely uncontested.”
To tips to help holidaymakers protect their homes this summer
1: Switch off your home devices
Cyber security experts this week revealed that hackers can determine your exact location to within a few feet through your Google home speaker or Chromecast device. Switch off your device and your broadband while you're away.
2: Be social media savvy
Bragging about the fact you're about to jet off to the Maldives for two weeks could put your home, not just your popularity, at risk. While you may think your group of Facebook friends is small, you never know who might be listening. Keep quiet about your movements.
3: Make your home look occupied
Some of our clients have electric blinds they can set to open and close remotely from an iPad, which is a good decoy. If you don't have the budget for connected devices like these, take simple steps like setting lights on a timer, asking a neighbour to park in your drive and cancelling deliveries so they don't pile up on your doorstep.
4: Get your CCTV in the right place
There's no point having security cameras pointing right at your front door – by the time a burglar has got that far it's too late. Position them further away to detect potential burglars further away with the assistance of perimeter detection. You can enlist a security firm like Croma to monitor your CCTV while you're away. They can move quickly if something happens.
5: Don't hand them the key
Too many people leave a spare key hidden under a rock or in a porch. Needless to say this is asking for trouble. Leave it with a neighbour you trust implicitly.
Roberto adds: “With the rise in violent crime people are fearful of asking friends to house-sit in case a break-in happens and they're attacked,” he says. “They feel much more comfortable getting a professional in and, with these homes often having more expensive items at stake inside, they're prepared to pay for the service to protect their possessions.”