Think like a thief!
The gate - a closed gate acts as a psychological barrier but if it’s broken or left wide open, it could suggest a casual approach to security that burglars love. Consider affixing a 'Please close the gate' sign to encourage postmen, leafletters or anyone hand-delivering a Christmas card to close the gate as they leave.
Don't give a burglar a leg up! Chain ladders and wheelie bins to stop burglars using them to climb over a fence or to a first floor window. If ladders are in a shed or garage, make sure that’s securely locked as well.
Doors and windows – don’t rely on just a cylinder lock for the front door. Use a deadlock or similar and lock the windows too.
Lighting – movement sensors and external security lights are inexpensive deterrents. If you have Christmas lights up outside, consider taking them down whilst you're away, as if they're conspicuously off at the most festive times, it's an indication that you aren't home.
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Beware of the dog
‘Beware of the Dog’ signs often have the opposite effect as burglars might assume the dog’s an alternative to an alarm, which is fine if it’s fierce but not much good otherwise!
Criminals also know that pet owners often have a habit of leaving back doors unlocked to let animals into the garden and if someone’s popping round to walk the dog or feed the cats while you’re away they could easily forget to lock the doors.
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Dos and don’ts
- Do let trusted neighbours or friends know you’re away and when you’re due back so they’re alert to anything suspicious. Ask them to keep an eye on the gate for you, so if the postie leaves it open, they can close it again.
- Do consider offering your drive as a parking space for your neighbour - not only will this make it look as though someone is home, it could help them with their own influx of party season guests, making them more amenable to keep an eye on your house whilst you're gone.
- Do leave a couple of lights on a timer to give the impression that someone’s home.
- Do draw blinds or curtains, especially in rooms where valuables or a calendar can be easily seen – someone ‘casing the joint’ will know when you’re next out and which rooms to target.
- Don't leave presents under the Christmas tree.
- Don’t put your home address on luggage labels that anyone can see and know you’re away - use a business address or just a phone number.
- Don’t leave notes for milkmen, window cleaners or the paper boy.
- Don’t leave keys under mats, flower pots or anywhere obvious – ideally give a set to anyone who needs access.
- Don’t leave the rubbish out for days – better to miss a collection until you’re back home.
- Don’t tell the world you’re away by talking about your whereabouts on social media websites.
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And now the weather...
Winter weather is predictably unpredictable; your return may be delayed by bad weather so be safe and resume newspaper or other deliveries when you’re actually back.
Heavy snow or gales can wreak havoc so make sure fences are secure, garden furniture, patio heaters and pots are a safe distance away from windows and cars.
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