Article date: 8 December 2008
Cooking, candles, presents and parties are all part and parcel of the festive season, but they also make it one of the riskiest times of the year in and around your home.
New Year's Eve is the festive season's worst day for burglary according to Norwich Union claims data.* Homes are 25% more likely to be broken into on 31 December than on an average day.
Every year canny burglars cash in on homes left empty during New Year revelry and of course all those extra gifts in the house from Christmas.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meanwhile, have one of the lowest crime rates of the year, but if you're unlucky enough to be targeted on 24 or 25 December claims are higher than normal with thieves snatching belongings and presents worth an average of £1,600.
As the countdown to Christmas begins, claims data also reveals that, despite the strain on budgets, pricey gadgets are still popular. Norwich Union reveals the top ten items stolen by festive burglars last year** and predicts what will be on thieves' Christmas swag bag wish list this year:
Top 10 items stolen
Predicted burglars' wish list
1. New shape iPod Nano
2. New Apple Macbook range
3. Games Consoles
3. Nintendo Wii and Wii Fit
4. Mobile Phones
4. Samsung Pixon or 8800 Arte Carbon mobile phones
5. Digital Cameras
5. New Canon Lxus 80
6. LCD TVs
6. New Panasonic & Samsung ranges
7. Pocket PCs/Blackberries
7. Blackberry Storm
8. Designer Watches
8. Tag Heuer F1 and Omega "Bond style" watches
9. CDs and DVDs
9. Latest Xbox, PS3 and Wii titles
10. Sat Navs
10. Tom Tom GO 940 Live
And while overall crime may be down - it's a well known fact that when finances go down, crime goes up. So homeowners should be particularly aware of security this year.
While you are least likely to be burgled on Christmas Day or Boxing Day - even criminals have a holiday it seems! December 25 is the worst day of the year for fires in the home, with claims soaring by 140%.
Hot ovens, festive candles, Christmas tree lights plus dry tinsel and wrapping paper all contribute to the rise.
Greg Gladwell, director of household claims at Norwich Union, said: "Of course Christmas is a time of celebration and protecting against crime is probably the last thing on your mind, but we would urge everyone to try and remember a few basic security measures when you are out partying or getting the home ready for the big day.
"You may be very proud of those perfectly wrapped presents but they are also enticing to an opportunistic burglar, so keep them out of sight from the outside world and while the spirits may be high on 31 December don't forget to lock up the house behind you otherwise you might find someone else will be enjoying all your new gifts!
"And while it's lovely to have a house twinkling with festive lights and candles, be careful when there's lots of excited children rushing around, watch out for all those dry flammable materials like wrapping paper and Christmas tree branches and don't forget to turn off the gas stove when you're watching the Queen's speech."
Norwich Union, soon to be Aviva, automatically increases home contents cover by an extra £3,000 over the Christmas period, but just make sure your sum insured is up to date in January to take into account all those new belongings you've gained.
Norwich Union's tips to a safe and happy Christmas:
- Don't make your home look like a shop window to tempt burglars by leaving presents under the tree - try to keep them out of sight until the big day
- Attics and lofts are good hiding place for presents and it's usually too much effort for the average burglar to look that hard for items to steal, plus they'll be far away from the wandering eyes and hands of excited children
- Ensure all gift packaging is as unidentifiable as possible when you throw it out. It's easy to just dump new TV or iPod boxes in or near your outside bin but it's a beacon of advertising to opportunistic burglars
- When it comes to New Year's Eve, double check the home security before you leave. Ensure all doors, windows, sheds and garages are locked securely and spare keys are well out of view
- Leave lights and the TV or radio on if you're out and about over Christmas so burglars think you're home
- Ensure all doors and windows are securely locked and spare sets of keys aren't on display or near to your front door - this will prevent burglars using the hook and cane method through your letterbox
- Be neighbourly - keeping an eye out for suspicious behaviour and alerting the police is a charitable thing to do and could mean you prevent a miserable Christmas or New Year for your neighbour
- Log on to www.aviva.co.uk/help-and-advice/home-advice/safer-street for more simple home security tips.
Press office contacts:
Rebecca Holmes - Norwich Union
Telephone: 01603 685 177 / 07800 690 731
Notes to Editors
*Norwich Union claims data from 1998 to 2007
**Norwich Union claims data from Christmas 2007
Norwich Union is the UK's largest general insurer with a market share of around 15%, with a focus on insurance for individuals and small businesses.
It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.
In the summer of 2009 Norwich Union will change its name to Aviva. Aviva is the world's fifth largest insurance group and operates in 27 countries. Aviva is to become the customer brand worldwide, thus enabling the company to compete even more effectively on a global scale for the benefit of customers, staff, business partners and shareholders.
Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at www.aviva.com/media.