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A festive season safe home

The weeks leading up to festive holidays see the biggest shopping weeks of the year and for many retailers this period often accounts for the lion’s share of their annual revenue. Stacking our homes with the latest electronic gadgets, computers, jewellery and must-have accessories is the norm; unfortunately writes Steve Drake, Security Training Manager at Magpie Security Ltd in Nottingham, it provides common thieves with the perfect incentive to commit crime.

1. One of the most effective forms of crime prevention for deterring would-be criminals is to invest in a motion sensor flood-light or even some outdoor Christmas lights to highlight your home’s exterior. This will hopefully make approaching your home too conspicuous for a burglar. Highlighting the fact your possessions are security marked and registered on Immobilise using window decals provides a further warning that your goods are marked, traceable and not worth the risk of stealing.

2. Secure festive lighting. A common mistake of many festive decorators is to feed extension cables through partially open windows; criminals know to look for this vulnerability. When it comes to outdoor lighting, opt for solar or battery operated lights or install outdoor electrical outlets.

3. Dispose of gift packaging carefully. Refuse collections over the Christmas and New Year period are normally at different times. If you can’t take packaging to a recycling point, make sure you only put your rubbish out just before the collection and do your best to fold boxes so that they do not advertise your new plasma screen TV and other contents of your home to thieves.

4. Protect your identity. It is good practice never to dispose of receipts and personal paperwork without first shredding it. Christmas is a time when this is especially important! Be careful though not to shred any important warranty details, make sure documents you keep are stored somewhere secure.

5. Check doors and windows for weak spots. Recent Government statistics show that 30pc of burglaries happen through windows. Installing a few dead-bolts and new window hinges could increase the security of your home exponentially.

6. Keep your curtains, drapes and window blinds closed at night, making sure valuable items are out of sight. When going out for the evening make use of inexpensive timers to give the illusion of occupancy.

7. If away over Christmas – if you fail to plan you plan to fail. If you’re going away at Christmas be sure to cancel any newspaper or milk subscriptions. Arrange for a neighbour to park on the driveway to help create the impression someone is home. Do not to leave descriptive telephone answering machine messages like “we’re away skiing for the Christmas holidays” etc and again make use of light timers.

8. Secure garages and sheds. Make sure that garden tools or ladders that could be used to force entry into your home are not left lying around or accessible from an unlocked garden shed. Garages are often targets for burglars looking for tools, bikes and gardening equipment – make sure the garage is secure and your possessions are secured too in the case of bikes and tools. Naturally make sure anything portable or valuable is recorded on immobilise.

9. Don’t hide keys and use alarms if you have them. Burglars know to look for hidden door keys so don’t hide spare keys under rocks, in flowerpots, or above door ledges. Instead give the spare key to family or trusted neighbour. Many houses these days have alarms, many though are rarely set, make sure yours is on and protecting your home.

10. Register your property for free on Immobilise. This is a national property database that police can access and search if they recover suspected stolen property. Police regularly search houses of suspected criminals, check second hand dealers, and visit car boot sales and have a device that can identify stolen property if the bar code is registered. Don’t let them get away with your gear. Get it logged. Get it back.

Most mobile phones have a unique identifier such as a serial number or an IMEI number (International Mobile Equipment Identity) which can found easily by pressing the following keys on your mobile handset: * # 0 6 # . If your gift doesn’t have a unique identifier there are several affordable marking kits available (such as SmartWater and ultra-violet pens). Contact your local PCSO for further advice.

Hopefully your property will not be targeted by burglars but we do hope some of the advice provided helps to keep your home safe over the seasonal period and into 2019.

For more about general protection and security visit www.magpie-security.co.uk.


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