News: Lax homeowners inviting burglary

Fri, 30 Nov 07

Our relaxed attitude to home security means that nearly 15 million Brits leave expensive items ‘on show’ through the windows of their properties...

Research by LV, reveals that items such as flat screen TVs, PCs, antiques and even jewellery, are visible to anybody on the street looking through the window in nearly seven in ten homes (65%) across Britain.

The most common item Brits admit to leaving ‘on display’ are TVs, worth £5.9 billion* - with 59% of homes having a standard or flat screen in view of the outside.  44% of homes in the UK have a combined £4.8billion* worth of computers or games console on display. One in four (25%) have their DVD players ‘on show’, valued at an estimated £300m* and 18% of households inadvertently advertise their antiques and collectables. 

Over 440,000 people even admit that their jewellery and jewellery boxes can be clearly viewed through their windows, an open invite to thieves.  This is despite the fact that December is the most common month for burglaries - with dark nights, empty homes and the added temptation of Christmas presents on offer to criminals.

West Midlands most vulnerable

Brits in the West Midlands are the most vulnerable when it comes to advertising their contents with 76% displaying their valuables, followed by Yorkshire and Humber (69%) and the North West (66%). 

According to LV= the average home has over £25,000 worth of contents, yet one in ten (10%) of those that have property visible for the outside estimate that is would cost between £6000 and £12000 to replace the items.

Burglary and theft is a serious problem in the UK, representing 36% of all crime, with an estimated cost of £2.8 billion to the nation every year, according to the Home Office**. 

Aside from not even taking simple steps, like closing curtains or blinds to hide their belongings, nearly four out of ten (37%) of respondents also admit they leave the discarded packaging from expensive products outside their homes for recycling, in full view of potential burglars****.

With millions of pounds worth of electronics expected to be bought in December, homeowners need to be particularly cautious about leaving this kind of evidence outside their homes.

Preventative measure essential

Martin Milliner, Spokesperson for LV=, said: “Burglary is frequently committed by opportunist criminals who see a quick way of making a fast buck.  Thieves are much more likely to target your property if they can see items worth stealing and high value electronic items are just the kind of thing they are looking for.

“There is a temptation to leave curtains open in December to show off Christmas trees and decorations. However we would urge home owners to take preventative measures especially in December by closing curtains or blinds to hide their belongings.

“Simple things, such as putting valuables and jewellery boxes out of sight from the street and breaking up boxes so it's not obvious when you have bought new expensive items can make your home less attractive to burglars.

“Burglaries cost householders millions of pounds each year in damage to property and the cost of replacing lost items, not to mention the significant upset and stress of coming home and finding your house has been ransacked.” 

LV= tips on protecting your home against burglars:

  • Keep all doors and windows locked to deter opportunist thieves.
  • Fit a burglar alarm and make sure you fit an alarm siren box at the front and back of your home to act as a deterrent to intruders.  If possible, the alarm should be connected to an alarm receiving centre (ARC).
  • Fit security lanterns to your porch and floodlights in your garden. Any unwanted visitors will trigger the sensors, flooding the area with light.
  • Plant thorny trees such as holly under vulnerable windows or low walls to deter entrance.
  • Remove keys from locked windows and doors and keep them out of sight and out of reach in a safe place.
  • When you go away on holiday, ensure you cancel your newspapers and milk and ask trusted neighbours to push through any mail that is left in your letterbox.
  • Engrave your name or address on your property. Burglars don't want marked merchandise because it is difficult to sell and it is evidence of guilt if they are caught.
  • Don’t leave items in your garden that could be used to break into your house, such as a garden spade.
  • Don’t leave ladders easily accessible in unlocked sheds.  The thieves could use them to gain access to your first floor window, where the security may not be as good.
  • Wheelie bins could be used to climb over gates and fences, so try to keep these secure.
  • Trellis works as a good anti theft device on fences, as it will break under a thief’s weight if they try to climb over it.
  • Gravel paths or drives can put burglars off as its makes a noise when you walk on it.

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