Christmas crime: What you need to know

Christmas for many, is usually a time for families and friends to come together, and indulge in festive food, drink, seasonal films and of course, presents! But given that 2020 hasn’t quite been what we expected, Christmas this year is likely to look very different.

In years gone by, thousands of people would normally hit the roads, catch trains, or even fly, to spend Christmas with their loved ones. And as most of the country would have taken a few days off to relax, homes maybe sitting unoccupied.

According to the data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there has been a 17% increase in robbery offences (which involves theft or attempted theft with the use or threat of force) from previous years.

However, over the Christmas period, we unfortunately also see a national spike in break-ins and thefts in homes that are vacant. So why do we tend to see an increase in property break-ins and theft over Christmas? There isn’t just one simple explanation, it is a combination of scenarios such as:

  • The nights are getting darker earlier, reducing daylight hours, which provides intruders with the perfect cover.
  • When homes are vacant, it is much easier for criminals to break-in undetected. Sometimes homeowners might not know they have been broken into, until they come back from their Christmas break.
  • Christmas trees with presents on display look so cheery and festive, but with people stocking up on expensive gifts, all in sitting in one place, it can make your home an easy target for thieves.
  • Like many people, you might be using social media to announce where you will be spending your Christmas holidays. This tool can be used against you, as criminals can figure where you live, and break-in when you are off elsewhere.

However, you can make small changes before heading off to see the family for Christmas, that could help keep your unoccupied home safe:

  • Avoid telling the whole world through social media that you are going to be away over the Christmas break. You never know who might be keeping an eye on your social media.
  • If you are planning on leaving your home vacant over Christmas, why not ask your neighbours to keep an eye on your home? They could open and close the curtains and turn the lights on and off, so it looks like the property is occupied.
  • Make sure all your access points such as windows, doors and skylight windows are locked using British standard and approved lock systems.
  • Consider installing a CCTV camera or alarm system, preferably one that you can monitor remotely from your smart phone.
  • Install flood or sensor lights around the exterior of your home, ideally so they light up your access points and blind spots, so it makes it harder for potential criminals to break-in undetected.
  • Timers can be set-up to automatically turn on and off your lights, TV and even your radio, at different times of the day/night. Giving the appearance that someone is home.
  • Hide or remove any excess packaging and boxes from deliveries, as this can indicate the criminals that you have lots of valuable inside.

Although we won’t be spending Christmas in the typical fashion, it is important to remember that no matter where you are celebrating the festive holidays, you should always take extra precautions to help keep your home and Christmas goodies protected.