As many residents are likely to be heading off on summer holidays or for days out in the coming weeks, Hertfordshire Constabulary is reminding people to make sure their homes are secure if they are left unoccupied.
Whilst the number of burglaries has remained around the same as this time last year, Dacorum (+11 offences), St Albans (+10) and Watford (+9) have seen some increases during June.
Summer can be a hectic time of year and home security tends to be far down people’s list of priorities. However, if you are planning to leave your home empty, even for short periods of time, giving your home a lived-in look by using timers on lights is a great way to deter burglars. Investing in doorbell and external Wi-Fi cameras is also 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.
Keeping your home cool during the hot weather is another opportunity criminals look out for, if you are leaving doors or windows open when you go out or into the garden. Burglars will also be on the lookout for outbuildings and garages that are left unlocked.
Crime Prevention Officer, Pearl Devonshire, from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Prevention First team said: “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 timers on lights 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 a lived-in look by opening and drawing the curtains, taking in any free newspapers and moving your mail away from the letterbox.
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