Beware the bad ‘guy’ on bonfire night as burglaries and malicious damage soar

With families around the country gearing up to enjoy Bonfire Night celebrations, our new research* reveals that those holding firework parties at home risk providing a spark of opportunity to thieves by leaving their doors unlocked and windows unchecked on what is the worst day of the year for burglary.

According to ten years of our claims data, 22% more thefts are reported on Bonfire Night compared to the average day.** However, a survey of 2500 UK homeowners reveals that one in five (19%) households holding a party in their garden admit to leaving the back door unlocked to make it easier for friends and neighbours to come and go as they please. And over one in ten (13%) even go as far as leaving the front door unlocked.

Nearly two-thirds (63%) say they do not check their windows are locked before heading out to the back garden, and only a third (32%) take steps to ensure that their valuables are not visible from the outside and out of sight from opportunist thieves.

Even those who plan to attend a public firework display away from the home fail to carry out basic security checks with one in three not checking that windows are locked and a fifth (22%) not ensuring that doors are secure.

However, the research shows that women are more security savvy than men, with 82% making sure all doors are locked before leaving the house (compared to 72% of men). Women are also more likely to ensure that valuables are stored safely out of sight and not visible from the outside (60% compared to 47% of men).

Our claims data*** also reveals that mobile phones and laptops remain the top stolen items claimed year-on-year during the Bonfire Night and Halloween period, with Apple products such as iPhones, MacBooks and iPods proving particularly popular with thieves.

However, the research shows that women are more security savvy than men, with 82% making sure all doors are locked before leaving the house (compared to 72% of men). Women are also more likely to ensure that valuables are stored safely out of sight and not visible from the outside (60% compared to 47% of men).

Our claims data*** also reveals that mobile phones and laptops remain the top stolen items claimed year-on-year during the Bonfire Night and Halloween period, with Apple products such as iPhones, MacBooks and iPods proving particularly popular with thieves. 

Top 10 stolen items during the Bonfire Night & Halloween period
20122011
iPhone 4S 16GB Toshiba Satellite Pro Laptop
MacBook Pro 13" iPod Nano 8GB
Toshiba Satellite laptop MacBook Pro 13"
iPod Touch 32GB LG 32” television
Toshiba Satellite Pro laptop Samsung NP Laptop
Fujitsu Lifebook iPod Classic 160GB
LG 32” television Sony SR15 camcorder
iPhone 4 8GB iPod Nano 16GB
MacBook Pro 15" iPhone 4 16GB
Compaq Presario Laptop MacBook Pro 15”

In addition to seeing an increase in the number of thefts on Bonfire Night, we also see a rise of 60% in fire claims with bonfires and fireworks causing increased damage around the home and a 70% increase in malicious damage claims.

Heather Smith, Director of Home Insurance, comments: “The crash and bang of fireworks under the cover of darkness gives opportunist burglars their best opportunity to target your home. The 22% increase in thefts shows they will be out and about while families are enjoying the fizz and sparkle of Bonfire Night celebrations.

“But those planning fireworks parties in their own back garden shouldn’t think they’ll be safe from thieves. It’s easy to leave doors and gates unlocked so that people can come and go as they please – including burglars. So why not keep doors locked and let guests in as they arrive, so that you know who’s coming into your home.

“And make sure you take care when setting off bangers and rockets. Fences and conservatories, in particular, can easily get hit by stray fireworks. So read the instructions, or it could be more than the Guy that goes up in flames.”

With our home insurance if the worst does happen you can call our UK claims team 24/7 and we’ll give you a named personal claim manager to manage your claim from beginning to end.

Top 10 tips to beat the burglars this Bonfire Night

Give the impression that someone is home by leaving the radio on a talk-back station and a few lights on.
Use a timer switch to ensure your lights will come on as it goes dark and use eco-bulbs to save money on bills.
Avoid telling strangers who know your address, such as delivery men or salespeople, that your house is likely to be empty at any particular time.
Don’t leave any valuables in your car. If belongings are too big to carry, make sure to conceal them well, take them with you or leave them at home, safely out of sight.
If you’re holding a party at home, avoid leaving a sign on your front door telling guests to meet you in the garden or ‘come in around the back’.
Make sure all front doors and windows are locked.
Try not to have the music too loud if you’re having a party – burglars might think that makes your house an easy target.
Put the car or bikes in the garage or out of the way for the night and don’t leave your keys in an obvious place.
Use all the locks and bolts on your doors – they’re there for a reason!
Don’t put spare keys in obvious places like under the doormat or a flower pot.

Methodology and research methods:
* Aviva commissioned research with One Poll among 2,500 homeowners about their habits and activities on Bonfire Night from 24-27 September 2013

** Aviva claims data from 2003-201

*** Aviva theft claims data between 31st October – 7th November in 2011 and 2012

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