The autumn may be a time to don cosy jumpers, kick leaves in the park, and tuck into hot chocolates and pumpkin spice lattes.
But as the clocks go back and nights start to draw in, this is also the time when opportunistic thieves look to pounce – taking advantage of the cover of darkness.
Insurers repeatedly report that theft claims soar on Halloween (October 31) and Bonfire Night (November 5), and that this is also the time of year when they experience a higher number of fire claims, as well as claims for malicious damage.
With this in mind, you need to take extra care over the next few weeks. The good news is, there are some simple steps you can take to protect both you and your home – so you can focus on enjoying the festivities.
Lock doors and windows on Bonfire Night
Always check that all doors and windows are locked before you leave the house to attend a Bonfire event or Halloween party (assuming such gatherings are allowed under the latest Covid-19 lockdown rules).
You need to be equally security conscious even if you’re only in your own garden.
While it may be tempting to keep the back door unlocked while holding a fireworks party, theft can take place very quickly – and can even happen when you’re in your home.
An open or unlocked door or window will present an easy target for a burglar, so keep everything shut, and make sure your lock is British Standard kitemarked. This is also important for your home insurance.
Invest in security measures
Look into installing an alarm and security lights, such as a motion-detector lights.
These can act as a deterrent and also make it hard for thieves to hide when trying to enter your home.
If you’re going to be away from your house or flat and not due back until after dark, invest in some timers for your internal lights. Use eco-bulbs to save money on bills. Alternatively, leave a few lights on and the radio playing. This will give the impression that someone is at home.
Make it hard for burglars to make a stealthy entrance
Gravel drives and pathways will deter burglars trying to break in – as will spiky railings and prickly bushes. Equally, if thieves get disturbed, these features can also make it harder for them to get away.
Store keys safely
Make sure car keys, doorkeys and other valuable items are not left near doors, windows, letterboxes – or even cat flaps – as thieves will ‘fish’ for them using coat hangers and other tools.
Don’t leave spare keys in obvious places, such as under the doormat or in a flower pot.
Keep valuables out of sight
Take care not to leave mobile phones, computers, cameras, consoles and other valuables in plain sight of windows. Keep them in a place where criminals can’t see them.
Keep tools and ladders locked away
Move tools, ladders and other items that a burglar could use to help them break in, and lock them in a shed or other outbuilding.
Join your local Neighbourhood Watch scheme
Look into signing up to a Neighbourhood Watch scheme.
If you are part of one of these groups, put the sticker in the window as this can act as a deterrent.
Be wary about opening the doors to strangers on Halloween
Trick-and-treat ‘tricks’ can take all sorts of guises, including eggs being thrown and garden plants being removed.
Think carefully before opening your door on October 31, and lock away bikes and other possessions that could fall victim to a ‘trick.’
Check your home insurance
The best way to keep your property and possessions protected not only in the autumn, but throughout the year, is with comprehensive home insurance.
Now is a good time to go over the Ts and Cs of your policy to check exactly what you are – and are not – covered for, and to check all the details are up-to-date. If in doubt, speak to your insurer.
And remember, that if your policy is due to expire, it’s worth seeing if you can get a better deal by switching. You can get a quote in just a matter of minutes, and could make significant savings.
Stay safe on Bonfire Night
Never build a bonfire too close to your home, shed or fence, and make sure it is stable.
Don’t let off fireworks too close to your house – or to people.
Ensure children are well supervised, and keep cats, dogs and other pets indoors at all times. Consider turning on the radio to help drown out some of the loudest bangs and crashes for your beloved four-legged friends.
Also make sure you’ve got pet insurance in place to help cover vet fees should your animal get hurt.
Plan ahead for holidays
If you’re going to be away for a few days this autumn, take steps to ensure your home doesn’t look empty. Ask a friend or trusted neighbour to check on your home and take care of post that might pile up.
Make sure you’re not advertising your holidays to burglars
Avoid having your calendar in plain view of windows so criminals can see when you’re away from home.
Also be careful about the information you post on social media sites. You don’t want to advertise to criminals the dates on which your house or flat may be empty. Keep a tight reign on your privacy settings.