“Burglars love the summer because they know there will be lots of empty homes,” says security expert Michael Fraser.
So if you’re going on holiday you will want to deter any unwanted visitors from taking advantage of your empty home.
The Metropolitan Police reported 43,947 domestic break-ins in London this year – despite burglary rates dropping thanks to better home security.
Here are some tips to ensure better protection of your property and valuables:
1. Don’t give thieves the green-light on social media
“Don't go on Facebook and tell everyone you're going away,” advises Fraser. Ensure your account is private by clicking the padlock icon in the top right-hand corner and either limit your posts to friends or set up specific sub-groups to share holiday photos. Do the same with Twitter and Instagram.
2. Cover your tracks
Travelling to the airport by taxi? Fraser recommends booking it to arrive down the road rather than outside your house. Also, resist the temptation to write your home address on luggage labels. “People in airports walk around taking photos of suitcases just sitting there,” Fraser says. You can always put details of your destination accommodation or your work address on your baggage.
3. Ask a friend to housesit
Leave a key with a trusted friend and ask them to check in from time to time to pull the curtains or remove post from behind the door. Alternatively hire a keyholding company that can make regular visits at random times of the day and who will send a security officer to your home if an alarm goes off.
4. Keep it under lock and key
Hide garden tools and patio furniture as intruders use whatever they come across easily to break into homes. They can also use bins to gain access through first-floor windows.
5. Use smart home technology
As well as a good alarm, it's worth investing in an internet-connected HD camera which will alert you to intruders. Canary (www.canary.is) is a good system – it knows when you are away, records what it sees and sends notifications of security breaches to your phone. WiFi doorbells such as ‘Ring’ let you speak to people at your door from wherever you are in the world.
6. Use your safe
Don’t forget to place valuables in your safe. Bolting it to a concrete floor will make it less vulnerable to theft and fire. You can buy shock sensors and heat detectors to set off an alarm if it is tampered with.
7. Avoid home-grown disasters
Intruders are not your only concern – some problems emerge closer home. It's worth turning off your gas and water supplies and disconnecting electrical items which don't need to be turned on. You should also consider upgrading your thermostat to Nest or British Gas' Hive – not only do they let you control your heating from afar, you can also take advantage of their motion sensors and Wi-Fi plugs. Forgot to turn off those hair straighteners? A simple tap of a button on your mobile phone will sort it.
This article was brought to you in association with Hiscox Home Insurance, providers of expert cover for valued homes, art and high-value items. Visit www.hiscox.co.uk/home to find out more.