As many residents are likely to be taking a summer holiday in the coming weeks, Hertfordshire Constabulary is reminding people to make sure their homes are secure when they are away.
Holiday planning is hectic and most people give little thought to home security before they travel. If you are planning to leave your home empty, even for a short break, giving your home a lived-in look by using timers on lights is a great way to put criminals off. Investing in doorbell and external wifi cameras is a relatively cheap way to keep your home and valuables safe.
Sharing your holiday plans on social media can also tip off burglars that your home is going to be empty, so make sure your security settings only let family and friends see your posts.
Hot weather can also present opportunities to criminals if you leave doors or windows open when you go out or to another part of the house or into the garden. Burglars will also be on the lookout for insecurities in outbuildings and garages.
Inspector Nicki Dean, from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Crime Reduction Unit, warned: “Whilst burglaries are around the same levels as they were this time last year, we often see an increase once the summer holidays start and homes are left empty for days or weeks at a time.
“If your home is left unoccupied burglars will look for tell-tale signs, like unopened letters at the front door, bins not put away or drawn curtains during the day. Making it appear that your home is occupied can be the most effective deterrent against burglary.”
There are many ways to give your home a ‘lived-in’ look when it’s unoccupied, so that any would-be criminals aren’t tempted:
Close and lock all windows, doors and outbuildings.Don’t publish your absence on the Internet. Status updates, comments and photos can all give away the fact that your home is empty.Use timer switches for lamps so that they turn on as it gets dark in the evenings. You could also use a timer switch for a radio (always follow manufacturer’s instructions).Ask your neighbour to put your rubbish or recycling bins back if they’re being collected whilst you’re away – if they’re left out after collection day it could indicate to a passing thief that your house is unoccupied. Be a good neighbour and do the same for them.If you aren’t leaving your car at home, ask a neighbour/friend to park their car on your drive.Don’t forget to cancel deliveries of milk, newspapers etc.Consider moving enticing items, such as laptops and mobile devices, so that they are out of sight.You could store valuables in your loft when you go away.If you are away for a longer period of time in the summer months, ask your neighbour to cut your grass. This helps to show that the house may be occupied.You could also ask someone you trust to help give your home the lived-in look by opening and drawing the curtains, taking in any free newspapers and moving your mail away from the letterbox.All these tips can help to give your home the ‘lived-in’ look. To receive police messages about a range of topics including burglaries, scams and missing people in your local area, sign up to OWL (opens in new window) or download the ‘OWL crime alerts’ app from your app store.
You can find further advice on securing your home on our crime prevention pages.
You can report information about a crime online or speak to an operator in our Force Communications Room via our online web chat. You can also call the non-emergency number 101.
Alternatively, you can stay 100% anonymous by contacting the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their untraceable online (opens in new window).