/ Home & Energy

Is your home secure this Christmas?

The number of burglaries surge around the festive period. Here, our guest from the Master Locksmiths Association, Dr Steffan George, sets out the ways to keep your home safe.

This is a guest post by Steffan George of the Master Locksmiths Association. All views expressed are Steffan’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.

As the weather turns frosty outside and Christmas presents begin to pile up, so too do the number of burglaries in UK homes, with 2018 shaping up to see burglaries at their highest rate for five years.

There are a number of things homeowners can do in order to protect their property and valuables over the holiday period, even if they’re away.

In matters of security, it’s always important to take professional advice and use third party approved products, as well as meeting any insurance requirements necessary.

By implementing some basic security measures, you will not only help to protect your family and add value to a property, but you will prevent potential financial and emotional costs as well.

Whether you own your home or rent, follow these simple tips to help keep you and your family safe and secure over Christmas.

Keeping the lights on

With the majority of break-ins committed by burglars who live nearby, thieves will notice the only house on the street with no Christmas lights twinkling in the windows.

Investing in timer plugs for your lights will make burglars think twice before trying their luck (unless of course their names are Harry and Marv!).

Also make sure you use or install outdoor electrical sockets for those Christmas lights and, whatever you do, don’t be tempted to run cables for outdoor lights through partially open windows or doors.

Holiday snaps

With many people leaving their homes to visit families or go on holiday over the festive period, it’s easy to get excited and tell the world what you’re up to.

However, increasingly thieves are identifying homes to target through social media, so always be mindful when sharing your festive snaps and make sure your social media settings are set to private.

Home security

Home security and CCTV has never been easier or more discreet to install, with many systems now allowing you to login via your smart phone from wherever you are in the world.

It has also been proven that homes with security systems are 300% less likely to be burgled than those without.

A local MLA-approved security expert can advise you on the best equipment available on the market.

Hidden gifts

While most of us love nothing more than to show off our decorating prowess by exhibiting our decorated tree and wrapped presents in the window for all to see, this can be a tempting window-shopping opportunity for thieves in the run-up to Christmas.

So, consider keeping presents hidden away from the Grinch – it may also stop you feeling tempted to have a sneaky peak before the 25th!

Lock and key

It’s important to review your home security and insurance documents to ensure everything is in working order and adequate before the festive season begins.

Check that all locks on doors and windows are correctly fitted and functioning, replacing any that are broken.

30% of burglars enter a home through an unlocked window or door, so it’s also worth reminding family members to check everything has been locked before leaving the house, or going to sleep at night.

For advice on appropriate locks and security solutions for your property, contact your local MLA-approved locksmith. Many will also carry out an initial security assessment free of charge.

This is a guest post by Steffan George of the Master Locksmiths Association. All views expressed are Steffan’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.

Have you ever been burgled at Christmas, or at any other time of year? What advice would you give people to avoid a similar fate?


This comment was removed at the request of the user

This comment was removed at the request of the user

“It has also been proven that homes with security systems are 300% less likely to be burgled than those without.” ….” 30% of burglars enter a home through an unlocked window or door”.

I wonder if the English figures are the same:

” Here are some home security statistics that may shock you… And hopefully motivate you to take action
2,000,000 home burglaries are reported each year in the United States.
About 30 percent of all burglaries are through an open or unlocked window or door.
Nearly 66 percent of all burglaries are residential (home) break-ins.
Renters are just as likely to be the victims of property crime as homeowners.
The highest percentage of burglaries occur during the summer months.
Homes without security systems are up to 300% more likely to be broken into.”

If they were the same figures the “up to 300%” figure seems more plausible than “300% less likely”.

Seems an unfortunately scaremongering figures to quote from the USA by a Trusted Trader rather than UK figures.

It seems in the UK it is around 1.5% of homes are burgled and I suspect some areas it is more likely, and some people are burgled more than once. The data from here seems to back this up but I would mention this is only data from Moneysupermarkets data which is possibly even probably not a representative sample of the UK burglaries

The data is by post code district which is rather misleading in itself as the most populated area may have many more times the domiciles of another post code and there use of Moneysupermarket for quotes may not be uniform.

For instance EX39 has in round figures 15000 household spaces and a rate of 0.78% of burglaries. Another low hit rate is NR20 but that has around 8000 spaces but a burglary rate of 1.63% according to the quotation requests.

An extreme example of using postcode districts there is apparently one with 500 “household spaces” and one has 32,000 “household spaces” looking at the data as per here.

Like my neighbours, at present I don’t have a working alarm although they were built with alarms about 20 years ago. It’s a wired system and the cables are concealed in the wall. I’m sure I could reuse the wiring and install an updated system, but the problem is reaching the bell box high up on an outside wall. I might enlist the help of a friend after Christmas because I cannot cope with long ladders.

In my previous homes I did have working alarms and have no idea if they acted as a deterrent, but I never had a burglary. I did check this website for crime statistics before moving home in 2016: https://www.police.uk

I network with a local MLA Approved locksmith and he showed us how even with a supposed BS cheap lock it can just be snapped and they are in within 20 seconds. Gettinga quality locksmith and high quality locks is vital. Don’t buy the cheap ones!

This comment was removed at the request of the user

There is good advice in that article referenced by Duncan. Some of the products might not be available in the UK but equivalents probably are. I think the most important thing is to ensure that the final exit door itself and the framework are highly resistant and that any locks are competently fitted.

We had a problem with the front door recently as the latch in the cylinder lock was not engaging correctly with the striking plate. Since new locks had been fitted just after we moved in by a highly-rated locksmith and door furniture company I asked them to attend and remedy the problem. The locksmith who attended dismantled the deadlatch and found that the backplate had been fitted with only one screw instead of three or four. He also found that the butts on the door frame were loose so the door was tending to drop on the opening side. He also took off and slightly repositioned the striking plate to provide a more positive capture of the latch. The original mortice lock needed no adjustment and gives additional protection when we go out but should not be used when the house is occupied because it needs a key to open it. There was no charge for these rectifications.

To comply with UK insurance requirements door locks must be manufactured to the [British Standard] BS3621 specification.

The article talks about the value of good locks versus the “deductible” under an insurance policy. In the UK this is called the “excess” which is the first portion of a loss or claim which is borne by the insured party.