Check your locks before jetting off: the security habits that can help protect your home

Family going on holidays

Holidaymakers not checking locks and leaving keys under flowerpots could open up their homes to unwelcome visitors while they’re away.

Alarming findings

Our latest survey 1 found we could do better when it comes to home security and it might be time to rethink how we lock-up and leave.

Packing a suitcase, putting the bins out and repeatedly checking where you put your passport is pretty time consuming but you should leave time to check your locks. Two-fifths of holidaymakers don’t check their doors and windows are locked before they leave, while less than half (43%) make sure sheds and garages are secured.

It’s probably a good idea to hide your prized possessions from prying eyes, as 48% of people make sure you can't see valuables through windows. However, just a fifth (19%) put away garden furniture, though British weather means that sun lounger probably wouldn’t be too big a miss.

Incredibly, only 23% set the burglar alarm before leaving, and one in ten (9%) of us are guilty of leaving a key under a doormat or plant pot, to allow neighbours to check our homes while we're away.

The UK’s pre-holiday security habits

Home security precaution ahead of holiday Percentage of UK adults who do this
Make sure the doors are locked 61%
Make sure the windows are locked 58%
Switch off all electric appliances that are not needed 53%
Make sure no valuables are visible through the windows 48%
Make sure sheds and garages are locked 43%
Lock away ladders and tools 25%
Set the burglar alarm 23%
Put away garden furniture 19%
Check the burglar alarm is working 19%
Turn the water off before going away 19%
Cancel or postpone regular deliveries, e.g. newspapers 19%
Mow the lawn and trim hedges in front of the house 18%

Lessons not learned

These laid-back security habits are even more surprising considering 14% of people surveyed said someone had burgled their home in the past, while 25% had experienced an attempted burglary.

Everyone loves to bask in the sun. Unfortunately, this includes burglars who take advantage of everyone enjoying being outdoors. July to September is a hot-spot for theft claims that happen while people are on holiday – an increase of 48% compared to other months of the year 2. The average claim is more than £6,000 3 and with 43% 4 of UK adults having booked a holiday for some time in the next 18 months, perhaps it’s time for holidaymakers to better protect their valuables.

How to protect your property

The survey found there are savvy ways of protecting your homes while abroad. More than a quarter of people (27%) leave lights on a timer to suggest someone is inside and one in eight (12%) ask a neighbour to park on the driveway. Two-fifths (40%) of holidaymakers ask family members to keep an eye on their homes and 14% ask someone to house-sit.

Although it can be tempting to give insta-perfect updates from your holiday on social media, advertising that you’re away and the house is empty is not a good idea. However, checking your home insurance is giving you the cover you need in the event of a break-in is definitely a good idea.

Finally, a good trim can go a long way, and mowing lawns and trimming hedges before jetting off can deceive burglars into thinking you’re still around. So, dust off that lawnmower, but don’t forget to lock it up when you leave.

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