Churchill Home Insurance has been crunching the numbers and has revealed that British householders leave their homes unoccupied for 51 days each year, working out as 3 hours per day.
According to the data, the ‘loneliest homes’ are in Sheffield, where households leave their homes empty for 60 days throughout the year, followed by London, at 58 days unoccupied each year.
Homeowners in Plymouth leave their houses empty for the least amount of time, with their homes being unoccupied for just 36 days throughout each year, followed by those in Norwich, who leave their homes empty for just 41 days each year. The move away from traditional 9-5 office working and the need for flexible working arrangements means homes in some cities are left unoccupied for less time than others.
The research also shows the laissez faire attitude towards security measures throughout the UK, as millions of households are not securing their homes in the run up to Christmas, leaving them vulnerable to burglars. More than seven million UK adults admit they have no security features to protect their home; whether that‘s alarms, window locks or deadlocks.
Analysis of UK Crime Stats reveals that Belfast has the highest rate of burglaries in the UK (64 per 1,000 households). It is, therefore, unsurprising that they report the most use of safety measures in their homes, with 93 per cent claiming to have some sort of device. The other cities with the highest burglary rates per 1,000 households are Nottingham (60 per 1,000), Manchester (60 per 1,000), Newcastle (57 per 1,000) and Cardiff (50 per 1,000).
Edinburgh, which has the lowest rate of security measures, has the fewest burglaries (17 per 1,000), followed by Plymouth (20 per 1,000). Those living in London are security conscious, with 87 per cent having some kind of burglary prevention measure in their homes and enjoy a spot in the bottom three of burglaries per household (21 per 1,000).
Interestingly, flats are more frequently left empty than houses according to the research. People who rent or own houses leave them unoccupied 49 and 42 days throughout each year respectively. This figure climbs to 74 days a year for those who rent a flat, and 69 days a year for flat owners.
Dr Claire Nee, Psychologist at the University of Portsmouth said: “We’re busier than ever with work and other commitments, especially at this festive time of year so it’s not surprising that our homes are empty for part of the day. The key is to make sure that we leave our properties safely locked up so that we can go about our days without worrying about a break-in.”
With the holiday season almost upon us, only 14 per cent of respondents lock away their presents in the run-up to Christmas. Other than keeping the gifts from prying eyes, this can also prevent temptation for burglars who might see the stack of gifts through a window. Over a quarter of people in the UK (28 per cent) leave gifts under the tree before the 25th, where they could potentially be visible to people outside of the home.
Ownership seems to have an impact on security measures, as those who own their house or flat are more likely (91 and 87 per cent) to have burglar deterrents on their property than those who rent (80 per cent of those who rent a house and 70 per cent for those who rent a flat).
Among those who have taken measures to protect their properties, the most common security features are window locks (65 per cent), deadbolts/other secondary locks on front doors (39 per cent), deadbolts/other secondary locks on all ground-floor doors (31 per cent) and burglar alarms (27 per cent).
Martin Scott, head of Churchill home insurance said: “Protecting your home is essential all year round, but the longer and darker nights can provide cover for a home intrusion. Unfortunately, Christmas is a prime time for burglars as they know properties are left unoccupied and there are more high value items in the home than usual. With so much going on, home security can be easily forgotten but we urge people to stay vigilant and protect themselves and their properties this Christmas.”
Simple measures like double locking doors and windows, setting the security alarm whenever the property is empty, making the home look occupied and keeping valuables out of sight can make a big difference and ensure it’s not the burglars who are having a Merry Christmas!”