Warning for homeowners to be vigilant as clocks go back

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 9-5, as burglars take advantage of the extra hour of darkness to prey on empty homes.

According to a survey of over 3,000 people by home insurer Policy Expert, the average time to get home from work is 5.08pm. At present, that means people are arriving home in daylight hours.  However as of Sunday 30th October it will get dark at 4.36pm, meaning that from Monday homes could now be empty and unattended in darkness for 33 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 17 minutes.

The most popular time that people return home from work is 5.30pm, which would mean people could be leaving their homes in darkness for 54 mins on Monday 31st and potentially an hour and 39 minutes in mid-December.

Despite this, the research revealed that many homes do not have adequate security measures in place to protect their homes while they’re empty. Only 2 in 5 (40%) of those surveyed have timed lights and just a third (35%) have a burglar alarm fitted, while 5% admitted they had no security in place at all.

Adam Powell, Head of Operations at Policy Expert commented: “The winter months are a tempting time for opportunistic burglars, so it’s unsurprising we see thefts rise over this time. 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 – that way you shouldn’t return home to any nasty surprises.”

 

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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