Christmas is a time when many of us are off work, and we go and visit people over the festive season, but sadly this is the very time that criminals can take the opportunity to ransack your home, just at a time when they know it is laden with expensive gifts. So what can you do to ensure that you don’t fall prey to a Festive Nightmare? According to the CSO (Central Statistics Office), burglaries have increased by 33% compared to last year, and alarmingly 1 in 10 homes in Ireland have been burgled in the last 10 years.
Pretend someone is in.
Christmas is both a good time for burglars in one sense and bad in another. They know there are gifts and presents and often cash in the house, but they are also acutely aware that there are lots of people around, and generally, they don’t want the hassle of dealing with a person. So when you do venture out, you need to give the impression that there is someone still there. Put lights on timers and leave the radio on to make it look and sound as if someone is at home. A talk radio show is often best as the sounds of the discussions can sound like a conversation. However, it is not a good idea to leave Christmas tree lights or other Christmas tree lights on due to the risk of fire.
Get help from your neighbours.
If you are planning on going away for a few days, it is a good idea to let your neighbours know. They might take in your bins from the roadside (a giveaway that you aren’t there), and if they have two cars, you might ask them to park one in your driveway to give the impression that the house is currently occupied by someone there. If the weather is bad over the time you are away, this can also make a difference, as burglars often check to see if fallen leaves or fresh snow have been cleared or walked on; again something you can possibly enlist your neighbour's help with. A bottle of wine for the neighbour upon your return is better than returning to a ransacked home. Post piling up is another giveaway sign that you aren’t home, as well as the more recent trend of delivery drivers just flinging your parcel anywhere and everywhere. A few of these piled up are like a welcome mat to a thief.
Be careful with your social media.
If you are very fond of posting on social media, please be mindful of tagging yourself and your location, especially in things like Instagram Stories or “Live” posts, and this might well attract the attention of a criminal in your area that is aware of your or your property.
Garda Lock Up and Light Up Campaign
An Garda Síochána is advising homeowners to ‘Lock Up and Light Up’ this winter and holiday season.
Nearly half of burglaries (45%) occur between 5 pm and 11 pm. Over 20% of winter burglaries involved a premise that was unsecured. There is also an increase in access through rear entrances by burglars (45%), possibly due to being able to operate more easily in the cover of darkness.
Some simple steps can help protect your home, so whether you are at home or going out, remember:
• Turn on some lights; LED bulbs are more energy efficient than traditional bulbs.
• Use timer switches/ motion detectors/ smart lights to turn on lights via phone
• Use motion detector/sensor lights outside; make sure they cover the door and not just the area near the door.
• Lock all doors and windows as part of your regular routine
• Use an alarm – get it serviced and ensure the battery pack is working
• Store keys away from windows
• Don’t keep large amounts of cash or jewellery in the house
Based on an analysis of burglaries from January to October 2022, jewellery and cash remain the most common objects stolen.
Sergeant Graham Kavanagh of the Garda National Crime Prevention Unit stated: "Burglaries traditionally rise during the long winter nights. Locking up and lighting up over the coming months could be the difference between making your home safe and making your home vulnerable. It’s as simple as that.
"As the days get shorter, simple steps have been proven to deter burglars, such as using an alarm, using timer switches to turn on lights, storing keys away from windows and letterboxes, as well as having a lock up routine for all doors and windows.”
Making sure your home is covered
One of the best ways after prevention, is to make sure your home is fully covered with Home Insurance. One of the big benefits of AA Home Insurance is the comprehensive level of cover you can get on Christmas presents. Our policies automatically increase contents cover for free over Christmas (think of it like a little gift from us to you!) When your policy is with The AA, the contents sum insured is automatically increased by 10% for December & January to cover the cost of replacing stolen or damaged Christmas Gifts (available on Owner Occupied policies only).