Policy Expert warns homeowners of increased risk as clocks go back

26 Oct 2017

As the clocks go back this weekend and the winter nights draw in, millions of homes could be left vulnerable to opportunistic thieves while their owners are working.

According to a survey of almost 4,000 people by home insurer Policy Expert, 5% more workers are getting home later – past 6pm – this year compared to 2016. There are approximately 32 million workers in the UK – this means there could be as many as 1.6 million people working later and leaving their homes unattended for longer. As the afternoons/evenings get darker, 14% of Brits say they are more concerned about leaving their property due to potential burglary whilst they’re at work.

The research also found that the average time to get home from work is 5.06pm. At present, that means people are arriving home in daylight hours. However as of Sunday 29thOctober it will get dark at 4.38pm[1], meaning that from Monday, homes could now be empty and unattended in darkness for 28 minutes. The length of time for which homes could be left empty in darkness will increase by a one to two minutes every day until mid-December when the average home could be left unattended in darkness for a full hour and 15 minutes.

Despite this, the research revealed that many homes do not have adequate security measures in place to protect them while they’re empty. In fact, more than a quarter (28%) of people don’t take any security measures to protect their home from theft.

Only two in five of those surveyed have timed lights and just a third have a burglar alarm fitted. Below gives a snapshot of the security measures homeowners are taking:

  • Only 43% have timed lights inside the house
  • Just a third have a burglar alarm installed
  • Encouragingly, 7 in 10 have external lighting
  • One in ten have surveillance cameras
  • A third have a neighbourhood watch

Adam Powell, from Policy Expert commented: “The winter months are a tempting time for opportunistic burglars. Longer nights and shorter days mean that there are more opportunities for crime to take place under the cover of darkness, so it’s important to remain vigilant and ensure your home is adequately protected. Any way to make your home look occupied or any visible deterrents, such as lights on timers, CCTV and burglar alarms should go some way in preventing a break in. Finally, check your home insurance policy to ensure it’s up to date and any valuables are declared to ensure you’re fully covered should the worst happen.”

Tips on protecting your home:

  • Install a timer to set lights inside your home to come on once it gets dark – choose a light in a visible room at the front of the house, not the hallway, as this will create the impression that someone is inside
  • Invest in sensor-activated, external lighting for the garden and around the front of the home
  • Install a burglar alarm – not only is this a visible deterrent, if someone does attempt to break in the alarm would alert neighbours and the police before any damage could be done
  • Don’t leave curtains closed – during the day this makes it look like there’s no-one at home
  • Make sure any outbuildings or sheds are locked and that any tools are hidden away – these could be used to break into your home
  • Ensure any valuables are out of sight – remove the temptation and make sure these items cannot be seen from outside the house through the windows
  • Never leave a spare key anywhere near the front door, for example under a doormat, flower pot – thieves know all the usual hiding places
  • Similarly, don’t store house/car keys just inside your front door, as burglars could try to fish for the keys through the letterbox
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