20 Quick Tips for Staying Safe Now the Nights are Drawing In

20 Quick Tips for Staying Safe Now the Nights are Drawing In

Most of us hate the cold weather, but it’s a treat for burglars: Halloween, Bonfire Night and Christmas means lots of empty homes to explore, and with the nights getting darker earlier, thieves have a bigger time frame to enter the house unnoticed. This means burglaries double in some areas during the winter months. Here are some cheap, quick fire tips to make sure you don’t fall victim to burglary this winter:

1. Purchase A Light Timer
These clever devices cost around £10 and control the lights in your home to come on and off at certain times, giving the illusion of occupation if you’re out.

2. Leave the Telly On
Similar to light timers, keeping the TV or radio on will keep your house sounding busy. This does waste electricity, and works best during short trips, but there’s nothing that freaks burglars out than noise coming from inside the home. Simple and effective.

3. Beware of the Dog
Man’s best friend is also his best crime deterrent. We’re not telling you to go and get a dog purely for security reasons, but a simple ‘Beware of the Dog’ sign has proven to make a thief think twice about breaking and entering.

4. Make Friends with Your Neighbours
Your neighbours can be your best friends this winter if anyone suspicious comes sniffing around your house. Go round for a cuppa and talk about keeping eyes peeled and maybe even clearing the post when you’re away so passers-by won’t know you’re away.

5. Invest in Motion Sensor Lights
If you can’t afford a fully-fledged alarm system, the next best thing is a motion sensor light that turns on whenever someone approaches your house. It acts like an accusing spotlight for burglars and more often than not sends them fleeing.

6. Dead Bolt Your Doors
A third of break-ins are straight through the front door, and many traditional locks can be ‘jimmied’ open with a credit card (one of the rare cases when the films are completely correct). Get a dead bolt lock fitted, they can’t be jimmied and are low cost!

7. Clear Your Drive
Bushes, shrubs and trees surrounding your driveway may look pretty, but they are the perfect hiding place for criminals who want to get into your home – or maybe even follow you inside! Keep your driveway clear, particularly in the darker months.

8. Don’t Hide Your Spare Key!
Where do you hide you spare key? Let me guess: under the flowerpot, under the doormat, or on the ledge above the door? This is what everyone does, and burglars are completely aware of this cliché! You’ll kick yourself if you get robbed using your own key.

9. Check, check, check!
You leave your house a lot in the winter months: Christmas shopping, end of year catch ups, bonfire celebrations, the office party. It may sound obvious, but in the rush, many people forget to check their locks. 20% of break-ins are through unlocked windows, which can be forgotten easily.

10. Don’t Announce Your Plans to the World
We live in a world where we Instagram our breakfast, tweet our lunch and Facebook our dinner. As tempting as it is, DON’T announce your vacation or even evening plans tonight. You’re off to the cinema tonight? That’s exciting, but discuss the film after you’ve been, otherwise your next status update could be “OMG I’ve been robbed! :(

11. Don’t Tell Callers Where You Are

Don’t change your answering machine if you’re off this season to grab some winter sun. Telling callers you’re away on holiday is a real security faux pas – you’ve just let slip your house is a free-for-all to robbers.

12. Keep Your Bike Hidden
You may think your bike is securely locked at the front of the house, but bike thieves have a way around everything. If you lock your bike outside tonight, you could be walking to work tomorrow.

13. Be Aware of Visitors
99% of the time, the gas meter checker is checking the gas meter. But the practice of robbers disguising themselves as officials to check out your home for potential goodies and security failures is on the rise. Ask for official identification. If they don’t have it, turn them away.

14. Don’t Show Off
You may have just blown your last paycheque on a massive telly, but keep it away from the windows. Keeping valuables where they’re easily seen is a great way to brag to the neighbours, and the best way to get that HD widescreen nicked.

15. Same Goes For Christmas
This is a bit of a killjoy tip, but a sensible one: keep the Christmas tree away from the window. Trees mean presents, and if you can see the presents easily, you’re advertising your goodies to the Grinch.

16. Buy a Safe Box for the Really Important Stuff
Passports, birth certificates, degrees, old photos, heirlooms: take the stuff that will be hard (or even impossible) to replace and put them in a locked and secure safe box, hidden in a good spot in your home.

17. Don’t Let the Post Build Up
Remember those neighbours you made friends with earlier? If you’re going away this winter, ask them to clear your hallway of post and advertisements every couple of days. If your letterbox is spilling out, your house is obviously unoccupied.

18. Don’t Forget the Shed (and Garage)!
The shed and the garage are often forgotten when securing your home, so invest in some shed padlocks and a decent garage door to deter thieves and keep these oft-neglected areas safe.

19. Shred the Evidence
If your new massive telly came in a box, don’t just leave that box outside on recycling day, it’s a screaming advertisement for the brand new, expensive equipment in your house. Same goes for any receipts or bank statements: shred them before you put them out.

20. Store Your Tools Away
If you have a DIY nut in the house, make sure they clear their stuff away after the job is done. Hammers, screwdrivers, ladders… every little helps for the potential thief.

About the author
Rob is a security writer and an avid reader of crime fiction, particularly the work of Jo Nesbo and Donna Leon. He works alongside physical security company advancesecurityscreening.co.uk.

Written by Editor.
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