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MORTGAGE FINDER ~ How to keep your home safe - A burglar’s perspective

With so many more of us taking last minute breaks than five years ago it's easy to be complacent with home security.

Almost 60% of UK homeowners are away more frequently than they were five years ago leaving them susceptible to one of the 974,000 domestic burglaries that occur a year. (Source: -2006 British Crime Survey)

As well as the upset and distress that burglary causes, householders' wallets are also likely to suffer if they haven't got contents insurance in place. The average claim for domestic burglary is £1,875 – which added up to £1.8 billion of claims in England and Wales last year, according to Zurich.

The good news for homeowners is that help has come from an unlikely source. A convicted thief who now works as a consultant to the Probation Service and has offered his expert insiders advice to what people should do to keep their homes safe.

He revealed common scam-exploiting holidaymakers: He said thieves often did their legwork at airports, scanning luggage tags for addresses of holidaymakers. That information would then be passed onto a partner or colleague who would carry out the burglary. Therefore Bob’s first tip was to never write your address on luggage tags, but, to include a phone number instead.

Hints and tips to prevent burglary

  • Make sure that your contents insurance is valid and sufficient before going on holiday
  • Get into a routine before you leave the home so that you remember to take all the necessary security precautions
  • Ask a neighbour or friend (someone that you know and trust) to watch over your home. If you do leave keys with someone, don't label them with your address.
  • Don't leave valuables exposed, in some instances it may be worthwhile to invest in a safe
  • Lock all outside doors and windows securely. Invest in some window locks and mortise locks for external doors
  • If you have a burglar alarm, make sure it is set
  • Cancel all deliveries, e.g. milk and newspapers or have a neighbour or friend pop round to clear your letter box or doorstep
  • Use on a lighting timer switch, so that the lights come on at certain times of the day. Closed curtains and a dark house are a sure sign that no one is home
  • Never leave a spare key concealed anywhere near the front door – burglars know all the hiding places
  • Encourage a neighbour to park on your drive
  • Disconnect the answering machine, or re-word your greeting message to give the impression that you are only temporarily unable to answer

Top stolen items Cash and jewellery were the most commonly stolen items according to the British Crime Survey. Burglars are all too often on the lookout for empty properties, and will go to great lengths to find them. It's worth checking your insurance policy to make sure that you have adequate cover for all of your household contents, particularly more expensive items such as jewellery.


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