Tips to help keep your home safe and secure this summer

The summer holidays are in full swing but did you know this season is a prime time for burglaries as thieves take the opportunity to target the empty homes of holidaymakers?

Would–be burglars can be deterred by taking some simple steps to improve the security of your property while you're away. You’ve been waiting all year for a week in the sun, so why spend it with worries of home, when you're supposed to be relaxing?

Follow these top tips to help ensure your home is safe and sound during your holiday:

  1. Lock it! - It sounds obvious but double checking that all windows and doors are locked securely will make a difference. This includes garages, sheds and side gates to your property. Make sure that your locks are strong, especially older ones.

  2. Hide it! - A good tip is to take a walk around the outside of your house and see if you can spot any valuables through the windows. If there's anything that would attract thieves, move it so it can't be seen by any burglars who may be window shopping.

  3. Time it! - Install timers onto the lights in your house and set them to come on at varying times to make your home look occupied.

  4. Fake it! - If you have a family member close by or a neighbour that you trust, ask them to drop in during your holiday to check the property and open and close curtains. If there’s no one that you would trust with a key to the house, asking a neighbour to put your bins out for collection could still help.

  5. Shut it! - Don't talk about your holidays in public places and refrain from posting updates about your holiday on social networking sites; it's advertising that your home is empty!

  6. Stop it! - Redirect your mail temporarily to a trusted friend, and cancel any regular deliveries such as milk or newspapers.

  7. Park it! - If you have an empty driveway or parking space while you're away, loan it to a neighbour who might appreciate the extra space. A car coming and going will help to make your home look occupied.

  8. Tidy it! - Make sure that you've tidied your garden before you leave. Mow the lawn so it doesn't overgrow, this makes the property look empty and provides a hiding place for prowling burglars. Lock away any garden tools or ladders that might help a thief get into your home.

  9. Unplug it! - It's not just burglaries that you're at risk of while you're gone. Unplug all of your electrical appliances (apart from those lights with timers) to minimise the risks of electrical fires and turn off the water supply to prevent leaks.

  10. Set it! - Having a burglar alarm visible on the outside of your house might help to deter people thinking of targeting your home but you should remember to set it too. If it links to a security company, make them aware that you’ll be gone and if you have entrusted your key to somebody, remember that they'll need the code to disarm it when they visit. They will need to remember to reactivate it when they leave though!

Done all of those? Great, now you can relax. You are on holiday after all!

Following the tips above is a great start to securing your home, however, no matter how careful you are, you need a decent home insurance policy as a last line of defence. If a determined thief does manage to steal from you, it means you'll be able to claim for your losses.

*Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/property/nearly-half-of-renters-and-buyers-check-crime-statistics-before-deciding-on-their-home-property-news-roundup-9622604.html (2014)