It won't come as much of a surprise to know that August is one of the most popular times of year for a family holiday.
It's over half way through the year, the kids have broken up from school and many of us just need that little bit of time to recharge! With it being such a popular time to take a break, it's common for the amount of homes left unoccupied in the UK to rise throughout the summer months.
Home security presents many challenges dependent on the time of year and the summer holiday season is no different. If you are planning a relaxing break abroad or hitting the road on a family trip, make sure you follow our top five tips for reducing the risks to your home when you're not there.
1. Make sure your home is left secure
Before you set off on your trip, make sure you have a check list of essential things to do before you go:
• Close and securely lock all of your doors and windows
• Check that you have locked and secured garages, sheds or outbuildings
• Close any outside gates and ensure those with locks are secured
• Ensure valuable items are hidden from view
• Consider leaving a light on, or using timer switches so they switch on and off at intermittent times
• Fully set your burglar alarm system - If you haven't got one, consider having one installed
2. Don't overshare on social media
It can be so tempting to let your friends know about your adventures through the medium of social media. However, is it really worth compromising the security of your home? Facebook, for example, has some features that allow you quickly share your activities with your friends.
• Checking in - Facebook allows you to 'check in' online based on your specific location. For example, this could be a restaurant, hotel or even the local beach. You might want to make your friends jealous by letting them know where you are at the time, but without realising it, did you know you could also be showing a burglar that you are not at home? We recommend that you avoid this feature. The people that matter most to you will likely know that you're on holiday because you've told them, and will be looking forward to hearing all about it when you are back.
• Photos and Videos - Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are also somewhere you can instantly share your holiday snaps, videos and activities with your friends. It's very convenient and another great way to show how much fun you're having, but this can also leave your home at risk. Like 'checking in', posting holiday photos shows you're not at home and could give a potential thief the incentive to capitalise. There was a recent news headline where a famous sportsperson had posted an image on Instagram of his holiday destination, and was subsequently robbed of thousands of pounds' worth of valuables, simply because the thieves knew he wouldn't be there. Remember that your friends can wait!
• Check your privacy settings - Ultimately, it's up to you how you use your social media channels. If you do choose to share information about your trip online, then we do highly recommend that you review your individual privacy settings before doing so. By default, your social media profiles are often available to be viewed by any member of the public, but there are ways you can limit what others can see. Each site provides instructions on how to make changes simply and quickly. Your friends should be your friends. Never accept requests from people you don't know.
Whilst there are several things not to do on social media, one thing we do advise is to like our Facebook page. Here you can keep up-to-date with all our latest home security tips and advice!
3. Don't leave valuables on show
As mentioned in the 'before you leave' checklist in tip number one, be sure to hide away any valuable items from view. These could be jewellery items, cash, car keys, important documents, family heirlooms or anything you consider of value. If you are unfortunate enough to suffer a break-in, it pays to make it as difficult as possible for a thief to locate your valuables. You could even ask a friend or relative to store items securely for you until you're back home.
4. Leave the garden tidy
Spades, forks, brushes, rakes - all of these garden tools could be potentially used by a burglar to gain access to your home, especially if they're left lying around. If you do use a piece of equipment, always remember to put it back and lock it away securely in your shed or garage. If you keep valuable items such as power tools and bicycles outside of the house, be sure to keep these under lock and key as opportunist thieves are always looking for easy pickings, especially for equipment they can steal quickly and sell on for cash.
Read more about garden security in another article we shared recently: Keeping the garden tidy to nip burglars in the bud
5. Make friends with your neighbours
Your neighbours can be a valuable asset for helping keep your home secure whilst you're away. With some gentle persuasion, they may be willing to keep an close eye on your property for you each day you're not there, watching out for anything suspicious. They may also be able to collect your post and any regular deliveries for you.
If you have a trusting relationship with a particular neighbour (or friend/relative), you may wish to lend them a spare key so they can open/close your curtains each day to help make the property look occupied. Just remember to give them a little notice before you leave. Of course, not all of us get on so well with our neighbours but when it comes to your home security, it might be time to put aside your differences and offer to help each other out.
You could also join a local Neighbourhood Watch scheme. Neighbourhood Watch is a great way to work together with other residents to reduce crime in your area.
For further advice from Allcooper...
If you would like any guidance on ways to protect your home, we are here to help. We can arrange for one of our experienced surveyors to visit you to discuss any home security needs or concerns you have - this is always free-of-charge within our areas of coverage.
Call our team on 01452 372626 or click here to enquire online.