We recently shared a post about why you might want to sign up for the Land Registry property alert service. If you haven’t read it yet, the upshot was that it can help protect your home from property-pinching gremlins and fraudulent shenanigans. This post also aims to protect your home from gremlins and shenanigans, but this time we’re focusing more on straightforward opportunistic-thief types.
In amongst all the excitement of heatwaves, rainwaves, the school break and various cancelled flights/day long ferry queues/train strikes/other assorted travel nightmares… you might be on the cusp of heading off on holiday. If so, you might want to set aside a few moments to peruse our suggestions on keeping your home safe while you’re away. After all, though we’re mainly in the business of buying and selling homes, we do also happen to care about what happens to them in between.
Below are a few things you might want to think about before you set off to throw your hat into the melee of the general travel chaos.
Secure doors and windows
We’ll start with the most obvious one… because it can be surprisingly easy to overlook. Do make sure you’ve double checked that all doors and windows are properly secured. Most opportunistic thefts happen because doors have been left unlocked, windows have been left open or window frames have been forced.
Avoid the giveaways of an empty house
There are certain things that act as a dead giveaway that a home’s been left empty. Blinds and curtains all being closed is one, as are milk or paper deliveries piling up. Though we don’t necessarily suggest you set up a complicated puppet-tableau like Kevin in Home Alone to fool any would-be thieves, there are a few tricks you can keep up your sleeve to make it a little less obvious that no one’s around.
Common suggestions include:
- Making sure there isn’t any visible post piling up (you could look into Royal Mail’s Keepsafe service if this is likely to be an issue).
- Moving pot plants away from windowsills so that wilting leaves don’t give you away.
- Mowing the lawn and trimming hedges before you go.
- Setting up a couple of timer lights.
Be smart about what’s left in view
Before you lock up and set off, think carefully about what’s visible through windows. Leaving laptops, ipads or other electronics in clear view is a big no-no: valuables should all be tucked more securely away.
You might be tempted to hide valuables away in case of a break in. Though this is a reasonably good idea, try and avoid the obvious spots. Your underwear drawer is probably the first place anyone would think to look, quickly followed by fake tins in the kitchen.
Lock up tools and ladders
Is there anything more inviting to a would-be burglar than a ladder left languishing at the side of a house? Presumably not, though we wouldn’t know for certain, not being of the burglarising-persuasion ourselves. Common sense also suggests that you’d be smart to make sure any tools are securely locked up in a shed: partly so they don’t go walkabouts themselves, and partly so they can’t be used to aid a break in.
Consider alarms, security lights and CCTV cameras
Wireless technology has made security tools such as alarms, lights and cameras a lot easier and more affordable. Things like doorbell cameras, bright floodlights and flashing alarm boxes can act as a real deterrent, so much so that you may find it tricky to get into the house yourself of an evening without alerting the whole street.
Be careful about who you tell you’re going away… and what you post on social media
We know, we know, when you’re super excited about a once-in-a-lifetime cruise or two weeks in an Italian villa it can be really difficult to keep that excitement to yourself. However, it’s probably wise to avoid sharing all the salient details with all and sundry before you go, especially on social media. Don’t worry, they’ll be plenty of time to show off your tan and your holiday snaps once you’re back.
Check your insurance cover is securely in place
We’d hardly be worth our salt as sensible legal types if we missed this one out, now, would we? Ideally, you’ll never need to claim on any insurance policies you’ve taken out on your home, but you’d be really rather sorry if you needed to and it turned out you weren’t as well covered as you thought. We’d recommend regularly checking policies, both to make sure they’re still in date and that they cover everything you think they do. If you’ve got questions about insurance or security systems, we’re sorry to say we’re probably about as much use as a wilting house plant. However, we’re always ready and raring to help with any legal questions you have about your home, so please do give us a shout if you need us.