We've historically seen an increase in burglaries over the autumn and winter months when it gets dark early and we fill our homes with gifts in readiness for Christmas.

However, there are quick steps we can take to help keep our homes, vehicles and valuables as secure as possible, limiting the opportunity for thieves.

Do you secure your home and garden?

Burglars are often opportunists who will target an open window, an unlocked door or valuables on display if they think they can get away with it.

Did you know?

Many burglaries happen on weekdays, in daylight, when you're more likely to be out. As well as locking doors and windows using the keys each time you leave you can also:

  • keep keys, cash and expensive items away from doors and windows, out of view
  • use timer switches on lights and radios to make your home look occupied
  • repair broken or faulty windows or doors
  • keep gates locked and boundaries secure
  • lock away bikes, tools and garden items which could be stolen or used to break into your home.

Do you always check that you've locked up?

Do you protect important items?

Some items you own may be very expensive, unusual, antique or have sentimental value, and therefore would be extremely hard to replace if lost or stolen.

It's a good idea to:

  • security-mark items including bikes, mobiles and laptops.
  • keep receipts, serial numbers safe and phone IMEI numbers safe.
  • photograph and insure expensive or unique items.
  • install a safe, bolted to the ground or a wall, or use a safety deposit box at the bank.
  • register important items for free on the national Immobilise database – this can help us return them to you if they are stolen and then recovered.

Do you lock and alarm your vehicle?

Some burglars may break in to your property looking for the keys to your vehicle.

Always store keys away from doors and windows and take them with you when you go to bed. It's a good idea to store electronic car keys in a signal blocking pouch so they can’t be scanned by thieves.

As well as locking and alarming your vehicle, you should also: 

  • remove items left inside - including jackets and loose change
  • secure items in your boot, out of view, if you need to leave your vehicle while you’re out - but try not to leave anything inside your vehicle overnight
  • park in a garage, a secure car park or well-lit location whenever possible
  • wipe away sat nav suction marks left on your windscreen - this could be all it takes to entice a thief to break in, hoping the sat nav is still inside.

Remember: If you’re clearing ice from your windscreen and need to go back to the house, remove the keys from the ignition and lock your car. Don’t be tempted to leave it running.

Do you always check you've locked your car?

Other useful tips

Sheds, garages and allotments

Places where you store tools, machinery and other valuable equipment offer easy pickings to thieves - especially when items such as lawnmowers are likely to be packed away until spring.

You can reduce the risk of having your property stolen by:

  • always storing tools and equipment in a locked place
  • disabling lawn mowers and other machinery when not in use and chaining items together to a solid anchor point
  • using closed shackle padlocks and installing alarms and security lights.

 

If your property is recovered after being stolen, you have more chance of getting it back if you have recorded some details (make, model, serial number and identifying marks) and have pictures of the items.

You can also:

  • register your valuables on Immobilise.com - the national secure property database 
  • security-mark items with a UV pen or a forensic marking solution
  • keep hedges and fences well-maintained and gates locked
  • secure hanging baskets to their brackets.

Unexpected visitors

The thought of unexpected callers knocking at your door can be worrying to some - particularly older neighbours or family members.

While most people who call at your home will be genuine, occasionally people can try to trick their way into your home to steal your valuables and money. They are known as 'distraction burglars' or 'bogus callers'.

Are you expecting anyone?

Be cautious; people from water, gas and electric companies rarely visit without appointments. If there's a real emergency, police and fire-fighters are likely to be there.

On rare occasions, people may pose as members of the emergency services or armed forces to gain access to someone's home. If you're unsure, follow the tips below.

Top tips to protect yourself

  • Lock your back doors and windows before answering the front door – thieves often work in pairs, one distracting you at the front door while the other tries the back.
  • Use your spyhole and chain and ask who they are through the door first.
  • Check their identification, even if they have a pre-arranged appointment.
  • If you're not expecting them and they don’t have ID, don’t let them in.
  • If they leave you a contact number don’t use it as it may be fake. Find the company’s number in the phone book, on the internet or on a recent bill instead.
  • If you need to get something, close the door until you return.
  • If in doubt ask them to leave and come back at a more convenient time when a family member or friend can be with you.

 

Remember, you are never obliged to answer your door.

Over the festive season

Stay alert when you are out

Whether you are shopping or socialising:

  • Stay aware of your surroundings and the people around you.
  • Keep bags and personal items in your sight at all times.
  • Sheild your PIN when using an ATM or making a card payment.
  • Keep valuable items zipped away, out of view – or leave them at home.

 

Shop safely online:

  • Only shop on websites you know and trust.
  • Always look for the padlock symbol when you are making purchases.
  • Beware of shopping scams, unsolicited messages or requests for personal information.

 

Don't advertise what's inside your home

  • Dispose of packaging and boxes carefully.
  • Advise delivery companies of a safe place to leave parcels if you are not home to receive them.
  • Where possible keep gifts, important or expensive items somewhere safe, out of view.

 

Going away for Christmas or the New Year?

As well as using timer switches on lights or radios:

  • Ask a friend to keep an eye on your home, clear any post from your front door, and even open and close your curtains while you are away.
  • Consider asking a trusted neighbour to park on your driveway or outside your property to give the impression someone is home.
  • Sign up to your local Neighbourhood Watch Scheme.

Keep up-to-date

We'll be providing regular crime prevention advice and updates in the lead up to, and during, the festive season. 

Find us on Facebook or follow @kent_police on Twitter to keep up-to-date with the latest information.