Darker evenings, poor home security, cars full of gifts and preoccupied homeowners are all triggers for opportunistic thieves over Christmas.
In addition to the obvious, during this time of year fridges and freezers are usually stuffed to breaking point with festive treats, so check that your insurance policy covers you in case of any issues.
Co-op Insurance offers the following advice to keeping your home and belongings safe throughout the festive period:
1. Close your curtains when you have the lights on inside, in the dark winter months it is easy to tell when a house is unoccupied and burglars can use this to their advantage.
2. If you’re out for the night, leave a light on inside to look like the house is lived in.
3. Whilst Christmas shopping don’t let your handbag out of sight and make sure it is secure, as in busy crowds you can be an easy target for pick pockets.
4. Be sure to leave your presents out of sight and well hidden, away from a window, and if you’re out Christmas shopping in your car be sure to leave them out of view and locked in the boot
5. Be careful what you post on social media. As tempting as it is to show your friends what Santa’s bought you for Christmas, think carefully who will be able to read your posts, and make sure you check your privacy settings to see who can and who can’t read them
6. After the mania of present opening, discard your cardboard packaging in your bin outside or better still take to your local recycling centre, don’t leave on show outside for thieves to see what presents you’ve got.
7. Fairy lights can be a fire risk, consider buying new ones to ensure they have a good standard of safety, make sure you turn them off when unattended and don’t leave them on overnight
8. Check your insurance policy, presents kept in your home will be covered by your usual contents insurance, but if you've bought big ticket items as gifts they may need to be listed separately. Typically, the limit for single items ranges from £1,000 to £2,000, so check your policy and call your insurer if you've purchased anything above your limit.
9. Also check to see your insurance policy covers accidental damage cover, for any breakages to new items such as laptops, or wine spillages over the Christmas period.
Caroline Hunter, Head of Home Insurance at the Co-op, said: “Burglary is an extremely upsetting experience for anyone who happens to find themselves in this situation, however by taking simple security measures they can easily be prevented. It is easy to be distracted when you’re busy getting ready in the run up to Christmas, but taking just a few small steps can make a big difference, in keeping your home, your possessions and, most importantly, you safe.”
Whilst ensuring you are adequately covered over the festive season allows you to focus on the festivities instead of worrying that something may go wrong, so be sure to check that your policy provides a seasonal uplift.”
Lynn Farrar, Chair of Neighbourhood & Home Watch said: “At this time of year people are buying lots of new things and it’s important to remember that thieves and burglars know this and are looking for easy pickings to get their hands on the things you’ve bought.
Dark houses are a clear sign that no-one’s home and most burglaries are opportunistic. So our advice is to buy some timer switches for your lights and use them. It sounds simple but a few pounds spent on timers could save you much more this Christmas.”