Aviva is urging residents to be on their guard, as longer nights and autumn events provide greater opportunities for burglars. 2019 data from the insurer reveals UK home theft claims increased by 10% during October and November, compared to the monthly average between January and September that year.
While theft claims fell in 2020 when people were spending more time at home, Aviva reports that they are beginning to rise again, with an increase of 33% between January 2021 and September 2021.
There is also evidence that people’s household habits could provide opportunities for burglars.
A fifth of UK residents admit they have gone to bed and forgotten to lock an external door (21%). A similar number (20%) have written details of external engagements on calendars – potentially telling people when their homes will be unoccupied – while 15% have left keys on the outside of their door, when letting themselves in. (Further details can be found in notes to editors).
Sarah Applegate, Data Insights Lead for Aviva says: “Theft claims fell during 2020 when many people were at home more, but we are now beginning to see them creep up again as individuals get out and about. Community celebrations, combined with the return to offices, could pave the way to potential break-ins, so we’d urge people to be vigilant, particularly during the darker months.
“A seasoned burglar will know how to spot a property where nobody’s home and will use calendar events to their advantage, but with a few simple steps, there are ways people can minimise their chance of being targeted. No-one wants an unwelcome visitor, so now is a great time to review home security measures.”
Aviva offers these security tips;
- Lock up your property: burglars are opportunists and look for easy access, such as an open door or window. Thefts can take just a few seconds and can even happen while you’re in your home, so keep doors and windows shut and locked wherever possible.
- Make your home seem occupied: use timers or leave lights on if you’re out and aren’t going to get back before dark. It’s also a good idea to leave a radio on to give the impression that someone is home.
- Install a visible burglar alarm and outside lighting: alarms – or even dummy alarms – can be a strong deterrent. Good lighting, particularly motion-detector lights, can make it difficult for burglars to hide while they try to break in.
- Don’t let thieves go fishing: never leave anything valuable – documents included – near doors, the letterbox or a window, as thieves can use coat hangers and fishing rods to hook them. Don’t label your house keys either.
- Keep ladders and tools locked away: most professional thieves don’t carry tools with them – they use yours. So keep sheds and outbuildings locked.
- Keep your valuables out of sight and away from windows: consoles, games and DVDs are often high on the list of criminals’ must-haves. Other favourites include cameras, computers, mobile phones, and jewellery.
- Password-protect your electronic devices: and keep your cyber-security systems up-to-date. Back up everything up in a cloud, and don’t write your passwords down where they can be easily found.
- Don’t store valuables in the bedroom: thieves know that’s where most people keep their precious items. Stash them away in different spots around the home.