Households are being warned to be vigilant as the clocks go back later this month – as an insurer has recorded home theft claims spiking by a third over previous winters.
Co-op Insurance said analysis of thousands of customer claims since 2013 found those for home thefts increase by 34% in the five months of shorter days after British Summer Time.
It compared claims figures in the five months leading up to the clocks going back with the five months after.
The analysis also found Friday is the most likely day for a theft to occur.
In the UK, the clocks go forward by one hour on the last Sunday in March and back by one hour on the last Sunday in October.
The clocks will go back on October 28 this year.
Dark winter nights provide an opportunity for criminals to spot unoccupied houses with no lights on.
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
If possible, invest in a CCTV system
Do not post your location on social media websites
Ensure doors and windows are locked
Set your burglar alarm
Ensure outbuildings and sheds are secured
Do not leave valuables on display where they can be seen from outside
Never leave car keys within easy reach of a letter box
Do not leave ladders in the garden
According to Co-op Insurance data, home thefts between November and March are more likely to be via forced and violent entry than in the summer months.
By comparison, thefts in summer months are often opportunistic, when someone may con their way into their victim’s home by persuasion rather than smashing their way in.
The Co-op also found that around the time of the clocks going back, the frequency of motor claims increases by 10% due to road traffic accidents.
The insurer also said while driving conditions are generally more difficult on darker nights, there can be other contributing factors such as drivers not turning their lights on, vehicles having faulty lights and wetter and more icy conditions with windscreens cracking.
Ian Kershaw, head of claims at the Co-op Insurance said: “Unfortunately darker nights lead to more burglaries so as the nights draw in we’re urging people be really vigilant when it comes to their personal safety, as well as the safety of their home.
“Nobody should have to go through the trauma of having their property burgled.
“Whilst in a lot of cases it is simply bad luck, there are things that home owners can do to deter thieves such as installing CCTV cameras, or at least dummy ones, and having a professional burglar alarm fitted to make burglars think twice.
“Looking out for yourself and your neighbours can actually have a real impact in creating a safer community.
“But, if you do see anything suspicious on your street, never put yourself in danger by going investigating alone, instead call the police.”