Don’t let thieves steal your Christmas

Burglary is a crime which can cause great distress to victims but it is often easily preventable. Spending a few minutes making your home more secure is time well spent.

Burglaries usually increase during the winter months, when burglars take advantage of the longer hours of darkness, however, simple measures such as using timer light switches and remembering to lock doors and windows at all times, could help prevent that. There are also many smart devices to help protect your home. Smart doorbells allow you to see who is at the door via your phone even when you are outside the home. Smart plugs and light bulbs can also be activated using WiFi meaning you can turn lights, radios and televisions on and off all from outside of your home, mimicking that someone is inside your property.

Councillor Gareth Williams, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities & Public Health, says: “With government restrictions in place many of us will be staying at home this Christmas. However, if you have made the personal choice to form a Christmas bubble, you may be spending time elsewhere at a friend or family member’s home. Please make sure home security is on your Christmas list.

“We’ve put together our top home security tips to follow during the festive period to help minimise the risk of a break-in. Many burglaries can be prevented by taking very simple measures so please do follow the advice and I hope you all have a happy and healthy Christmas.”

Don’t let offenders spoil your family’s Christmas this year. Make sure you follow crime prevention advice to protect your home and keep unwanted visitors out:

  • Don’t leave your home in darkness advertising the fact there is no one at home. Invest in a timer light switch and vary the time it comes on each day to make it look more natural. It can also be used with a radio or TV to give the impression that someone’s home. If you are leaving a light on make sure it’s a room that cannot be looked into from the road
  • Perhaps purchase a fake/simulated TV device which lights up a room like a real TV.
  • Keep valuables out of sight and mark them with your house number and postcode using a UV pen.
  • Register your valuables via Immobilise and keep an inventory list. It’s free and takes just a few minutes.
  • If you have jewellery at home, photograph it for insurance purposes and store it in a suitable safe.
  • Lock your doors and windows, even if you are at home. If you have a UPVC door make sure you have double locked it by lifting the handle and locking it with the key. Make sure the key is removed from the lock and out of reach.
  • Look out for your neighbours’ houses, especially when they’re not at home and call 999 immediately if you see anything suspicious. If you want to report something which does not require an immediate response call Thames Valley Police’s non-emergency number 101.
  • If you are not a member of a Neighbourhood Watch Group you can find details of your local group via the website at: . If no such group exists in your area, then consider establishing your own group.
  • Don’t tempt burglars by leaving packaging of expensive items you’ve bought on view as an advertisement to thieves of what is inside your home. Don’t advertise new items you may have bought such as electrical equipment to people by leaving the empty boxes outside your home. Make sure to break down your boxes. If you leave them intact, it’s easier for thieves to know what to look for when breaking into your home.
  • Keep those gifts off online. If you’re lucky enough to be given a new games console or new bike, don’t grab the attention of criminals by posting photos of your expensive gifts on social media; it can be an invitation for robbery.
  • Don’t leave your car keys on display (on window ledges/worktops) and don’t leave them by doors or windows where they could be grabbed with a hook or cane.
  • If your car has a remote start invest in a signal blocking box for your car keys in to stop any potential car thieves from scanning your house for your car key.
  • Check who is at your door before opening it – if you have a chain on your door use it. Make sure you ask for ID if someone claims to be from a company or bank or says they are a police officer.

Superintendent Amy Clements, Thames Valley Police, said: “Being burgled can be an emotional and traumatic experience for victims and whilst we are doing all that we can to prevent the residents of Buckinghamshire from having to go through this, particularly over Christmas, it is important to read through this advice and consider any measures that you could take to make your home more secure.

“Most burglars are opportunists and will take advantage of any moment we are seen to be letting our guard down when it comes to home security, so wherever you’re celebrating, make sure it’s only your nearest and dearest who can access your home.”

For further advice on keeping your home secure take a look at the Thames Valley Police Home Security Guide at: