As most of us know, we’ve just been subjected to the annual madness that is Black Friday for the sixth year running. If you didn’t know this, well – congratulations on avoiding it all – even though you must have been living under a rock to have missed it! The classic American tradition has been developing in the UK since 2010, when Amazon UK first started offering discounts in line with American stores. Since then, it has snowballed into a whole weekend of discounts across most retailers. Plus, there is now the addition of ‘Cyber Monday’ – the online-specific version of Black Friday, where customers can save on their online shopping. Whether you love the idea or loathe it, you can’t deny that it is a bit of a phenomenon.
For most of us who take part, we usually end up with a handful of decent deals. Technology is a popular Black Friday purchase, as consumers make the most of the huge savings on televisions and games consoles. Market leaders such as John Lewis have also capitalised on the US phenomenon, offering Christmas gifts and homewares for a fraction of the original price. It’s no wonder the weekend sends shoppers into a bit of a frenzy! If you took part this year, you might be sitting at home surrounded by your discount purchases, feeling a little smug. But all those purchases added together amount to a lot of money, meaning that you could be harbouring hundreds of pounds in Christmas gifts in your property. This makes you a prime target for pre-Christmas thieves and burglars. Many burglars tend to operate much more frequently around the festive period. They rely on the fact that many people are often out of their homes on days out in the holidays, or out at Christmas parties during the evenings. They also have the cover of darkness, which now settles at around 4pm, to rely on and to help cover their tracks. This is why when you have a sack full of expensive gifts in your home, it is vital to be vigilant with your security around the month of December.
Hide the evidence
If you made the most of Cyber Monday, or if you just love online shopping in general (it’s a lot easier than battling through a busy shopping centre!), chances are you’ll be getting a few items delivered direct to your home. Whenever you order something online, you will usually be asked where you want the courier to put it in case you are not in. Most people’s answers will be something along the lines of ‘leave it on the back step’. But even in the quietest of cul-de-sacs, you can still be a burglar’s prime target – and it doesn’t take much for them to simply climb over your gate to get to the goods. Always ask for your parcels to be delivered to a trusted neighbour, or hidden in a shed if that’s not an option for you. It’s still not ideal, but having your deliveries on display is an easy catch for a thief.
In the same vein as online shopping, leaving presents and expensive items in full view of the street is a recipe for disaster. Many burglars will essentially ‘window shop’ along a street looking for homes where the goods are on display. The same thing is true of cars, so always put any expensive items in the boot or under a blanket if you have to leave your car for a period of time. If you can, put any very pricey items you have stocked up on for Christmas in a secure, locked cupboard – or in your cellar, if you have one. It’s all about deterring unwanted visitors and making it difficult for them to rob you, rather than easier. With that in mind, it is also advisable to fully dispose of any branded packaging, rather than leaving it in full view of the street or your yard. If there is a giant cardboard box lying around with a picture of a new Sony television on the front, any burglar is going to know that the TV is now in your home. Take any packaging straight to the tip or keep it out of view until you can properly get rid of it.
As mentioned before, Christmas is a popular time for burglars to strike purely because there are so many occasions when all the family is out. There wouldn’t be anything worse than coming back from a winter’s day out to find that your property has been ransacked and worse, they took some of the Christmas gifts you bought. In order to deter burglars from targeting your property, you need to try and outsmart them. A common option is to leave your lights on all the time – but doesn’t always work. Most burglars study your property for a while before actually targeting it, so they will soon learn that no one is actually in. It is better to buy a timer which will flick your lights on and off at set intervals, simulating a full-time occupancy. It is also definitely worth your while getting a burglar alarm, as studies show that homes with alarm systems are far less likely to be targeted. If you are unsure what kind of alarm to get, make sure you do your research when looking for a home security system. Plus, you will need to make sure your whole family knows how to work the system so that the alarm doesn’t ever get set off by accident!
Keep it on lockdown
Christmas lights are big business in the UK, ranging from the subtle to the extravagant and then, the quite frankly mad. But whatever you go for when dressing your own home in a festive manner, consider where your power source comes from. Many homes don’t have an outdoor power source, so their Christmas light wires are fed from inside the home – often through a window or under a door. This shows any potential burglars that there is a way into your home, so keep any windows in question locked and bolted. Some thieves are unfortunately ruthless and won’t think twice about a forced break in, but by following these tips, you can significantly reduce the threat of a burglary to you and your home.