For many of us, the clocks changing in autumn isn't something we really look forward to — but for criminals, perhaps it is. Shorter days give them more time to work under cover of darkness, with research from Aviva showing there's a significant increase in burglary between Halloween and Bonfire Night.
Halloween sees a rise of 150% in malicious damage claims to homes, damage to cars rising by 50% and car thefts also increasing by 20%. Now, that is scary. And Bonfire Night is the worst night of the year for break-ins. It seems burglars take advantage of many people being out of the house at public displays or parties and the noise of fireworks cover up suspicious sounds such as smashing glass.
Of course, these types of incidents are covered by standard home and motor policies, but it's always best to avoid the worry of being a victim of crime in the first place. With 80% of crime being committed by opportunists, it's the simple steps that can have the greatest effect.
- Remove keys from doors when they're locked and leave them out of sight. Never leave a spare key outside or hanging inside a letterbox. Burglars know where to find them.
- Shut windows when you go out.
- Make your house look occupied if you'll be out when it's dark and, of course, make sure all doors and windows are securely locked. Leave the radio or the TV and the odd light on — you can connect these to timers to turn them on and off. It's also wise to shut the curtains as well as leave the lights on if you go out in the evening.
- Move any garden ornaments, potted plants or bikes from the front or side of your house and out of sight.
- Don't answer the door to trick or treaters if you don't want to and if you're enjoying a firework party in the garden, make sure your front doors and windows are shut and locked.
- Lock sheds, garages and other outbuildings with robust locks. This protects your garden and DIY equipment and means thieves won't have easy access to tools or ladders which they could potentially use to break into your house.
- Fit motion-sensitive exterior lighting. Available from most DIY shops, exterior floodlighting with motion sensitive detectors will light up your garden and other exterior areas, warning off intruders.
- Mark your possessions with your house number and postcode. Only use an ultraviolet marker pen when other methods would reduce the value of the object. Seeing a marked item may dissuade a burglar from taking it in the first place.
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