Message sent by
Marion Lewis OBE (NHWN, Regional Representative, East Midlands)
With Christmas and New Year just around the corner, you are probably in the process of buying presents and stocking up on supplies for the festive season. However, at this time of year rich pickings can be found.
We want you to be able to relax and enjoy the festive season, so here are some useful tips to ensure that you don’t become a victim to an opportunist thief.
Make sure gifts and valuables, wrapped and unwrapped, are out of view and not visible from any windows. This applies in the car as well as in the home.
- Photograph valuable property and log any serial numbers. Don’t store the information on a laptop, as that might be stolen too – keep it on a memory stick in a safe place.
- Don’t put gift packaging out for recycling or leave it sticking out of your bin – thieves will notice boxes for branded products like laptops, TVs or accessories that could indicate an expensive piece of kit somewhere in the house. The safest thing to do is to break down any cardboard boxes or fold them inside out so that you cannot see the branding. You can then store them out of sight inside your home until you can dispose of them at a local recycling site.
- Mark any expensive gifts you receive for Christmas with a UV pen or property marking service. This will make it harder for burglars to sell the items and allow police to return them to you. Call your local policing team on 101 for advice about property marking products. You can register your property with www.immobilise.com which is endorsed by a number of police forces.
- Lock all doors and windows, leave a light on and draw the curtains when you go out at night. Keep your doors and windows locked from the inside even when you are inside your home.
- Visible burglar alarms, exterior security lighting, timer lighting switches and leaving the radio on help to deter thieves and give the impression that somebody is at home.
- Bolt and padlock garden gates and make sure you don’t leave ladders out, or other things that burglars could easily use to climb on. Remember to lock your garden shed and store your tools inside; it stops burglars using your tools to break into your house. Consider fitting extra padlocks to gates, sheds and garages. Don’t keep presents in the garage or shed.
If you’re going away, we always recommend asking a trusted neighbour to pop in to your home every now and then to turn the lights on and off, draw the curtains, collect the mail and make the house look occupied. It goes without saying, make sure everything is properly locked up before you leave and the burglar alarm – if you have one – is set. We advise cancelling your newspapers, magazines and milk deliveries. We also recommend that you don't advertise the fact you are away from your home on Social Networking sites - thieves use Social Media too!
You don’t have to be a member of a Neighbourhood or Home Watch scheme to be a good neighbour, and even if you don’t have much contact with your neighbours, Christmas could be the perfect time to break the ice, have a friendly chat and get to know them a bit better.
Burglars wander around looking for chances. The best opportunity for the police to catch them in the act is for you to spot them before they break in. Wherever you live, remain vigilant and if you see anything suspicious, call 999 immediately. You can also call 101 to contact your police in a non-emergency situation.
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust has also produced a guide on how to keep safe during the Festive season, which can be viewed and downloaded here: