As the evenings get darker - are your valuables safe?

14th October 2015

As we get further into autumn, the nights start drawing in and the annual discussions start as to whether or not to put the heating on. However, there’s something else you need to consider at this time of year – making sure your valuable possessions are safe.

Opportunistic thieves take advantage of the darkness to access homes and gardens with less chance of being seen, so it is vital that you take precautions at this time of year, or risk unwanted visitors to your property.

Thefts from Gardens

According to the Economic Voice, claims data from saga shows that around four in ten (39%) people have had something stolen from their garden, such as plants, garden tools and garden furniture. The most commonly stolen items are outlined below:

  • Plants (9%)
  • Garden tools (8%)
  • Garden furniture (8%)
  • Trees (6%)
  • Statues and ornaments (6%)
  • Lawnmowers (5%)
  • BBQ (5%)

Interestingly, those least likely to have a garden (18 to 34 year olds) are at the most risk of having something taken, with almost half reporting that that they had suffered a garden theft.

The least likely were the over 50s, with a third reporting they have had something taken from their garden, despite this age group being the most likely to invest more time and money in improving their gardens. It has been suggested that the lower theft rate amongst this demographic could be down to conscientiousness and taking greater care to lock valuable items away at night, such as barbecues, tools and furniture.

The average cost of stolen items was slightly over £200, however one in ten people report that they have had something stolen that cost between £400 and £500. Homes most at risk of garden thefts are those in London (57%) and those at the least risk are those in the South West of England (25%).

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS)’s Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), there were 685,000 thefts from outside of homes between April 2014 and April 2015, which equates to more than one per minute.

What can I do?

As the nights draw in, remember to lock items away in sheds garages and outbuildings to protect your property from opportunistic thieves.

Shed alarms are relatively inexpensive and could deter burglars from stealing particularly valuable items. Motion sensing security lights are another cost effective deterrent for thieves looking to use the cover the of darkness to burgle your home or garden.

Visibly and permanently marking items such as lawnmowers and tools is likely to make thieves think twice about stealing them and this can also help your items to be recovered if they are stolen.

Thefts from Homes

It is not just your garden that is vulnerable at this time of year. Your home could become a prime target for burglary, particularly if you’ve become used to leaving your windows open during the summer months.

According to the ONS most recent data, there were over 411,000 burglaries in England and Wales last year.

What can I do?

There are a few simple precautions to protect your home, simple things like double-checking that doors and windows are locked, keeping valuables out of sight and installing burglar alarms should be high on the list of priorities. The College of Policing recommends that the following steps can make a big difference in keeping your home safe from burglary:

  • Lock your doors and windows every time you leave the house, even when you're just out in the garden, remembering to double-lock UPVC doors (lift handle and turn key).
  • Hide all keys, including car keys, out of sight and away from the letterbox (remember a device could be used to hook keys through the letterbox).
  • Install a visual burglar alarm.
  • Install good outside lighting.
  • Get a trusted neighbour to keep an eye on your property.
  • Leave radios or lights in your house on a timer to make the property appear occupied.
  • Make sure the fences around your garden are in good condition.
  • Secure bikes at home by locking them to an immoveable object inside a locked shed or garage.
  • Keep ladders and tools stored away; don't leave them outside where they could be used to break into your home.
  • Ensure side gates are locked to prevent access to the rear of the property.
  • Ensure rear fencing is in good repair.
  • Improve natural surveillance at the front of your property i.e. trim high hedges.
  • Mark your property with postcode and house number and register your property for free with Immobilise.
  • Consider joining or forming a Neighbourhood Watch scheme (opens in a new window).
  • Remove valuables from view of ground floor windows.
  • Store any high value items (i.e. jewellery, passports) in a properly secured safe or bank vault.

The below video shows two burglars attempting to break into a house via the garden, using tools left outside:

For added peace of mind, make sure to invest in quality home insurance. While it may not stop burglars targeting your home, it can dramatically lessen the financial and emotional impact that a burglary could have on you and your family.

There are a huge array of insurance products and providers in the market, so it can be tough to know where to begin. Fortunately specialist brokers such as Call Wiser can take the worry and hassle out of finding great value home insurance that is tailored to your needs.

For help finding five-star insurance to safeguard your home at competitive rates, speak to Call Wiser’s experienced and friendly broking team today.

We’ll compare over 30 of the UK’s leading providers so you don’t have to, making sure you get the right product for your needs at the right price.

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