Householders warned over spike in break-ins as clocks go back

Householders are being warned to be vigilant as the clocks go back this weekend, as it tends to see a spike in break-ins to homes and cars.

Friday is the most likely day of the week for thefts to occur during the winter months, according to Co-op Insurance.

After analysing thousands of customer claims since 2013, Co-op Insurance found that home theft claims jump by 36% in the five months after the clocks go back compared with the five months beforehand.

The clocks go back on Sunday as the UK reverts to Greenwich Mean Time instead of British Summer Time.

The winter nights make it easier for burglars to hide under the cover of darkness and unoccupied houses are easier to spot if they do not have lights on.

According to the Co-op data, home thefts between November and March are more likely to involve forced entry than in the summer months.

Thefts which are more opportunistic or deceptive and non-forcible tend to be more common in the summer, when people may have left windows or doors open.

Motor insurance claims including thefts of or from cars also increase by 6% when BST ends, Co-op Insurance found.

Analysts found that in addition to more difficult driving conditions such as icy or wet roads, claims increase due to drivers forgetting to turn their lights on, badly maintained vehicles and windscreens cracking, for example if someone has tried to defrost a frozen windscreen with boiling water.

Jonathan Guy, head of claims at Co-op Insurance, said: "Unfortunately darker nights lead to more burglaries and we are urging people to be vigilant and think carefully about both their own and their property's safety."

He continued: "We actually spoke to a number of reformed burglars last year and they said that motion-activated security lights are most likely to put would-be burglars off, with 26% steering clear of homes with these installed, so this could be a good investment if you don't have one already."

Lynn Farrar, chairwoman of Neighbourhood Watch, said: "The very best thing you can do to stop yourself being a burglary victim is to make your house look occupied when you go out.

"We recommend fitting window locks, leaving inside lights on a timer so your house isn't in darkness, fitting double or dead bolts on your doors and installing an outside light on a sensor."

Here are some tips from Co-op Insurance to protect your home from burglary:

- Leave a light on when you are out or invest in a light timer

- Install exterior security lights at the front and back of your property

- Do not post your whereabouts on social media

- Ensure outbuildings and sheds are secured

- Do not leave valuables on display

- Never leave car keys within easy reach of a letterbox

- Do not leave ladders outside your home

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