Darker nights provide rich pickings for thieves

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November is the month to be feared most, as the darker nights and approach of Christmas mean burglars are out in force.

As the clocks go back today, summer has come to an end marking the official start of long winter nights. However, with less daylight, people should take extra care as the cover of darkness can prove a tempting offer for opportunistic thieves to target vulnerable homes.

Research released by price comparison site Confused.com reveals that the most home insurance theft claims are made in the month of November, accounting for 9.1% of home insurance theft claims. This marks a huge 20% increase when compared with the month of April where burglary claims were at their lowest.

With the average cost of a burglary at £3,500, it is vital homeowners take all the preventative measures they can to avoid becoming a victim. People are also being urged to check their home insurance policies to make sure they are fully covered in the event of a burglary as dark winter nights could prompt an increase in claims as a result of break-ins.

Detective Superintendent, Sean O'Callaghan of Essex Police, said: "The onset of darker evenings, marked by changing clocks, always signals a change of tactics by police towards preventing burglaries. The cover of darkness has obvious attractions to these criminals."

"In fact, in the month of November, 676 burglaries took place within the area of Essex. It is important to remember that opportunists carry out most burglaries. As a resident you can make a few small changes to your property and your daily routine that can help to make your home safer, by putting would-be burglars off and making life very difficult for them."

O'Callaghan added: "Having your property burgled can be very upsetting, as not only do the victims have to deal with the psychological effects of having their home entered, but they also have to spend time dealing with insurance companies to try and get back the monetary value of any stolen items, whilst also coming to terms with the loss of any sentimental or irreplaceable items."

Here are some simple steps to burglar proof your home:

  • Keep valuables out of sight - Don't allow opportunist thieves to view your belongings from outside your house. If possible, have blinds or netting that will keep unwanted eyes away.

  • Put keys out of reach from windows and doors

  • Make sure windows and doors are locked- even if you only go out for a short period of time. If you have multi point locking doors, ensure doors are properly locked and remember to use the key at all times.

  • Make sure the side or back gate is shut and locked

  • Install a burglar alarm and switch it on when the home is empty. If an alarm is fixed in a prominent position, thieves are more inclined to leave the house alone.

  • Don't leave bins and ladders in a prominent position that will provide thieves with a convenient 'leg up' into your property. Keep them locked away so no help is inadvertently given to the burglar.

  • Make sure the curtains are shut and some lights are on even if you are just popping out for the evening.

  • Check the limits of specified items within your policies. There are limits on single items in the home - make sure that the specified amounts are reflective of your possessions and adequate to cover the value list or photograph high value items.

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