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Did you know the number of burglaries increases during the winter months? Aided by the cloak of darkness, thieves carry out around 20% more offences during the colder months.

Help ensure your home isn’t targeted by checking your home security now, here are some simple steps to carry out to help your property stay secure over the coming winter months.

Check your doors
Some home insurers have minimum standards when it comes to the doors fitted to the outside of your property and upgrading beyond these standards could help you secure cheaper home insurance. Burglars look out for front doors that are fitted with single cylinder locks such as Yale locks, so having something like a mortice deadlock in place can put them off.

If you have patio doors or bi-fold doors fitted to your property, ask your manufacturer what protection the model provides when it comes to break-ins, they should be able to advise you of their safety and how to keep them secure. For example, bifold doors are much safer than a regular door. If you have internal bi-fold doors, locking them as part of your nightly routine could make it more difficult for burglars and in case of emergencies, fire, to move easily around your home. Always buy the best locks and doors you can afford and be vigilant about locking them. If you have a front gate, ensure it’s also kept shut as this gives burglars the message you are conscientious, which can make your home a less appealing target.

Exert communication caution
We’ve become a nation of sharers – whether it’s telling everyone on social media that we’re jetting off for a week in Spain or telling Twitter followers we’re out shopping, we’ve gotten into the habit of letting people know when we are out and about rather than being at home. Before you ‘check in’ at a hotel or restaurant, consider who can see your updates – do you really want people to know your property is vacant? Other ways to let burglars know you’re not at home could include leaving a note for the postman on your door asking them to deliver an expected parcel to your neighbour or putting your calendar somewhere it can be viewed by prying eyes. If you’re not careful, a burglar could be looking forward to that upcoming dentist appointment that you’re dreading! If you do go away, you may want to ask a friend or relative to pop in and move any post out of view too.

Leave valuables out of view
Close fitted blinds can stop passers by snooping on where your valuables are kept. Many people still leave their keys in a bowl in the hallway, which is a real no-no. Not only can burglars swipe your spares and potentially pick up your car too when they gain entry, but if the bowl is in view of your letterbox, they could actually use those keys to gain entry! Be mindful of leaving laptops, tablets or smartphones in view of windows and doors and be careful where you store communications displaying personal details such as bank account information too. If you’re in the habit of leaving a spare key under a plant pot or nearby bin for your housemate or a forgetful teen, stop it now! Instead, make a contingency plan. Can you leave a spare key with a family member or trusted friend in case of such emergencies? Whatever you do, don’t attach your details to it!

Secure the perimeter
Burglars do look for burglar alarms and they also try and gauge how likely they are to be in use. If your alarm appears to be in a state of disrepair or is accompanied by a sign that tells people you’ve got a pet in the house and the alarm is therefore unlikely to be enabled, it might not be as much of a deterrent as you’d hope. Lighting can also put off would-be burglars, though if you decide to fit a motion light, make sure it’s not in a position that means it will be set off by every passing cat. While high fence can make it harder for people to gain entry to your property, hedges and trees can actually make things easier by giving them cover. Don’t let your hedge become an unruly danger this winter, book it in for a trim!

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