As the festive season approaches, many of us are looking forward to the giving and receiving of presents. Unfortunately, as homes fill with gadgets and expensive gifts, burglars take advantage of our festive generosity, often conveniently piled in one place under the tree.
Suffolk Police is urging members of the public to prioritise their home security as part of its #SaferChristmas campaign to ensure that Santa Claus is the only person sneaking into your home this Christmas.
According to figures from the last four years, thieves also take a day off on Christmas Day. However, statistically, the worst days for break-ins during the festive season are only a few days later on 29 and 30 December as more of us are either back to work or are out enjoying the start-of-season sales. Other peaks days for break-ins include 1 January as so many people are out of the house for an extended period of time, and 3 January which coincides with the return to normal routine.
While most thieves force entry into homes, 19% of burglaries in December and January are because of insecurities – an open or unlocked window or door. Detective Superintendent Andy Smith said: "We recommend people use the ‘close it, lock it, check it’ system for home security, double checking that windows and doors are properly secured to help prevent the risk of burglary.
"A light on can also be a simple tactic to deter a thief when no one’s home and closing the curtains can definitely help. Consider installing alarm systems, CCTV as well as doorbell camera technology to further secure your home.
"It’s also best to avoid displaying Christmas presents under the tree until the last possible moment and think carefully about where to put valuables. Ideally, don’t group them together as it will make ‘shopping’ easy for a burglar.”
The risk of burglary could also be greater as a result of social media and Suffolk Police is also reminding members of the public not to advertise their homes are empty by ‘checking in’ to other places or publicising that they are on holiday.
D/Supt Smith continues: "I would also encourage people to keep an eye on their neighbours’ homes, particularly when you know they are on holiday or elderly neighbours who may be vulnerable to bogus callers or rogue traders. Setting up or joining a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme is an excellent way to work together to keep your community safe.”
However, it’s important to be aware that thieves don’t just target us personally at home. As more of us are electing to buy gifts online in an effort to avoid the crowds on the High Street, Suffolk Police is also urging online shoppers to be on alert for fraudulent activity.
Detective Superintendent Smith concludes: "It’s important to be aware that fraudsters advertise fake discount offers on websites and social media to tempt people into falling for their scams. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. We would recommend people use the official websites of online retailers and brands they know and trust, and always check the delivery, insurance and returns policy.”
Suffolk Police works closely with Suffolk County Council’s Trading Standards officers to identify scams, rogue traders and unsafe products. For more information on how to keep up to date on activity, visit: www.suffolk.gov.uk/JoinTheFight.
An A-Z list of crime prevention advice is available on the Suffolk Police website: http://www.suffolk.police.uk/advice/crime-prevention-z.
If you believe a crime is in progress, call police immediately on 999.
Top 10 items taken by burglars
6. Games consoles
8. Car keys
9. Bank cards
Help us keep our communities safe. Police advice on a variety of subjects can be accessed via https://www.suffolk.police.uk/advice To report something, or to otherwise contact Police, use the link http://www.suffolk.police.uk/contact-us To report something anonymously call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org Alternatively call 101 for non-urgent matters.
Help us keep our communities safe.
Police advice on a variety of subjects can be accessed via https://www.suffolk.police.uk/advice
To report something, or to otherwise contact Police, use the link http://www.suffolk.police.uk/contact-us
To report something anonymously call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org
Alternatively call 101 for non-urgent matters.