The festive season is almost upon us and we’ll all soon be out shopping for gifts, wrapping them up and visiting friends and family. We want to feel secure when leaving our homes during the winter months – when burglaries in Ireland increase. 
We all know the importance of having a home alarm system, but there are other precautions you can take to keep your home safe this Christmas season. We want our customers to have a happy, and above all, a safe Christmas.
Nowhere to hide
Burglars are obviously more inclined to attempt a break-in when they feel they aren’t going to be caught. Make sure your house doesn’t offer good hiding places or cover for potential thieves. Trim back any trees or bushes in your garden, and keep the exterior of your house well lit.
If looking to make an investment for your homes security, motion sensor lights work as good deterrents for burglars. Lights turning on will startle the burglar and can also alert those inside and in your neighbour’s house that someone is nearby.
Hide any valuables well out of sight from any windows in your home. For those very valuable items you don’t need at hand all the time, hide them in your attic. Attics aren’t attractive spots for burglars to search as they don’t offer an easy escape route if someone were to come home or notice their presence.
Hiding money and other valuables in tins, teapots and your freezer isn’t enough either, burglars are constantly getting wise to these kind of hiding spots. Unless the place you hide your valuables takes a long time to access, it will still be found by burglars.
Do not keep car, or spare house keys anywhere near windows, doors or letterboxes. ‘Key fishing’ is a popular method amongst burglars, using an instrument, pole or magnet to take keys from through windows and especially letterboxes.
Keep a post catcher or cage over the inside of your letterbox to prevent this. Never ever keep a spare key ‘hidden’ in your garden or around your house. There are no hiding spots that burglars aren’t aware of. Leave them with a neighbour instead.
Don’t make burgling your home look easy. Burglars will target houses that don’t look to be very secure. Make sure your windows and doors have solid, reliable locks. Your exterior doors should be fitted with a deadlock to deter thieves. The safety of you and your family is well worth investing in secure locks for your home.
Make sure to keep tools and ladders locked away or sealed in a shed when not in use. Don’t allow your shed to be easily accessible – otherwise you are offering a range of tools for a burglar to gain entry to your home.
If you’re away
Never advertise the fact you’ll be away from home on social media, as it can attract unwanted attention. If you are going to be away for a couple of days or more, ask your neighbours or a family member nearby to pop in and open and close your curtains every now and again, and take in your wheelie or waste disposal bin after the rubbish has been collected. Cancel your post deliveries for the duration that you’re gone too.
Similarly, if you leaving your house for a few hours or less, leave your TV on. This was found to be the fourth best deterrent for burglars in a study conducted by The Guardian newspaper. Leave a lamp or bedroom light on too, so it looks like the room is occupied.
Man’s best friend
Just in case you needed another good reason to have a dog at home, they act as great deterrents for burglars, who won’t want to risk a barking dog waking the house, or the entire neighbourhood! In fact, in the previously mentioned study carried out by The Guardian, barking dogs placed second in the top 10 deterrents for burglars, as voted by former burglars. And the number one deterrent on the list? CCTV cameras.
If looking to invest in your home security, CCTV is a highly effective method. No burglar is going to want to risk their identity being disclosed to the Gardai and facing prosecution. There are various types of security systems available now, that can fit different budgets.
An alarm system is also a great investment to keep burglars marking your home as a target. At Aviva, we offer customers a 14.5% discount off their home insurance quote if they have an approved alarm and 19.5% discount if the approved alarm is monitored 24 hours a day.
What to do if your house is burgled?
Unfortunately, some of us will be unlucky enough to have our homes burgled, even if we take precautions to prevent it. It is an emotionally distressing experience, but if you take the following steps, you’ll be well on your way to taking control of the situation.
- Call the police: It is important that you immediately contact the police as soon as you realise what has happened. Do not touch anything that has been disturbed or damaged. You must file a report with the police if you want to make a claim on your insurance policy, or if you wish to try get your belongings back. If you are not home when you become aware that your house has been entered by an intruder, do not enter the house before the police arrive.
- Make a list: Record everything that has been taken from your home, and include anything which has been damaged in your house.
- Call your insurer: Be sure to call your insurer within 24 hours of the break-in and pass them the details of your police report and the personnel you dealt with so they can retrieve this information to process your claim.
- Come to terms with the break-in: It is completely normal to feel scared and even somewhat alien in your own home after a break-in. Take some time to stay in a friend’s or family member’s home if needs be. When you are happy to be in your house, add some extra comforts to make yourself feel at home again. Try to not let fear affect your happiness in your home. Add extra locks or security measures if this will make you feel more at ease.
- Take measures to secure your home if you don’t have any in place: Follow the above guidelines to help protect your home. If you already had those steps in place, and were still burgled you may want to look into more options to give you and your family peace of mind.
To see our infographic of top 10 home security tips, click here.
And the final step to keeping you and your home safe is making sure it’s insured with reliable home insurance. To find out more about Aviva home insurance and its benefits, click here.
Aviva Direct Ireland Limited is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Home insurance is underwritten by Aviva Insurance Limited.
Aviva Insurance Limited, trading as Aviva, is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority in the UK and is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland for conduct of business rules. Registered Branch Office in Ireland No 900175. Registered Branch Address One Park Place, Hatch Street, Dublin 2. Registered in Scotland No 2116. Registered Office Pitheavlis, Perth, PH2 0NH.
 The Irish Times, 2016. www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/garda%C3%AD-warn-of-break-ins-as-days-begin-to-shorten-1.2842473