Heading off on holiday? Follow these simple steps to keep burglars at bay.

Burglary is more common than you might think. According to new research from M&S Bank, one in ten have had their current home broken into – with nearly a quarter (22%) of those having been burgled more than once.

It’s not rocket science that empty homes present much easier pickings for burglars – and with millions of us heading off on holiday in August, now’s the time they’re looking to seize their chance.

But there’s no need to panic. Instead, make your home as unappealing to burglars as possible by running through these 12 simple steps before you leave.

1. Check your home insurance: A few days prior to heading off, dig out your home insurance documents and check your policy. Look out for single item limits – which is the maximum you can claim for one item – and any exclusions. For example, most standard policies won’t cover a property that’s unoccupied for more than 30 consecutive days. If you need to make any adjustments, telephone your insurer in plenty of time. Or even switch to a better deal.

2. Tell a neighbour you’re going away: Just an FYI will do, but if your neighbour is able to come into your home and make regular checks, that’s even better.

3. Shut (and lock) all windows: This includes even small bathroom windows and those that you think can’t be accessed.

4. Lock internal doors where possible: Ideally you want your home to be more like an onion (with lots of layers) rather than an egg (one crack and you’re in).

5. Keep curtains and blinds open: This way it’s not too evident that the home’s unoccupied.

6. Set some lights on timer switches: It will make anybody who might be watching the house more uncertain. Or, if you are tech-friendly there’s now a wide range of kit available which allows you to control lighting from your smart phone. 

Hand with keys locking a door

7. Give valuables extra protection: If you don’t have a safe at home to lock up your jewellery, technology and any sentimental items, stash them in some clever hiding places instead. If you’re worried you’ll forget where they are, note it down on a piece of paper and take it with you.

8. Don’t let post pile up: More than a quarter (28%) of holidaymakers go away for a fortnight or more which makes for a lot of post. If you don’t have a willing neighbour to clear it, try Royal Mail’s Keepsafe scheme which keeps hold of your letters for up to 66 days and delivers them once you’re home again.

9. Keep a car on the drive: Ask a neighbour to park their car on your drive for as long as you’re away. If your car is staying put outside your home, hide the keys.

10. Remember the garden: Make sure all garden furniture, as well as bicycles, barbeques and tools are all locked away securely in outbuildings.

11. Use the alarm: It sounds obvious but many working alarms never get used – so dust off the instructions and bring yours to life. If you are one of the 46% of Brits (according to M&S) without a house alarm, think about investing in one. As well as acting as a major deterrent, 60% of burglaries on homes with alarms fail, according to Yale.

12. Stay off social media: Broadcasting your absence with photos or ‘checking in’ to your holiday location broadcasts the fact you’re away.  If you can’t resist, at least make sure you’ve checked your privacy settings.

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