Once you’ve got all of your Christmas shopping done, you might be worried about children hunting around the house on a search for their presents.
But it may not just be your kids looking for their gifts – if you don’t take care, there’s a risk that others might look to help themselves.
Burglars could present an extra threat at Christmas, as your home may be more likely to be empty if you’re attending parties or on holiday. An intruder could make an educated guess that there might be presents lying around. You can make sure Christmas isn’t ruined and protect your gifts though, by taking care not to leave your property vulnerable.
If you don’t already have one, consider installing a burglar alarm on your property. Not only could this deter some thieves if they see it on the outside of your house, but it will also alert you if someone’s trying to break in. If you do already have a burglar alarm, check it’s working and replace the batteries if they’ve run down. It’s also worth changing the code if it’s still the same as when you moved in.
You could also install motion-sensor lights on the outside of your home. These can deter any unwanted visitors who may be prowling around the property at night, and they might be more likely to wake you up in the event of an attempted burglary. The same can be said of a gravel path or driveway, as it’s almost impossible for someone to approach your home on this surface without making a noise.
It might seem obvious, but make sure you lock all the windows and doors every night and while you’re out of the house. Some of us may be guilty of leaving the upstairs window open while we’re out, but this could give a thief access. It might also be a good idea to check that your locks are as secure as they should be. If you’ve got a dodgy back door and you know just how to shove it to gain entry when you’ve forgotten your key, a burglar may be able to work this out too.
Even something as simple as installing deadbolts on your front and back doors could prevent a thief from being able to break into your home as easily. However, determined burglars may not be put off by alarms and locks, particularly if you’re not in the property at the time, so make sure you’re not accidentally advertising your presents to thieves.
Use common sense
When you bring gifts home from the shops, make sure you’re careful when you’re bringing them into the house. If you live on a main road, lock your car while you’re away from it, even if you’re just in the house for a couple of minutes. Don’t leave presents in your car for a long time, such as overnight, and never leave them on show for an extended period, as a passing thief could see it as an invitation.
While it might be a handy hiding place to keep gifts away from the kids, don’t hide the Christmas presents in the garage. It’s often easier to break in here than to your main house, and you could be less likely to hear if someone’s trying to get into it at night.
Although Christmas is the holiday of parties and social occasions, try not to post on Facebook and Twitter about when the entire family will be out of the house. We might like to brag about what we’re up to on social media, but a report from Legal & General last year showed that over-sharing online could put us at risk of burglaries. Try not to post too much on Facebook if the family’s going on holiday for Christmas, as this will let thieves know your home is empty and they may take advantage of this.
Many of us may be planning to do the bulk of our Christmas shopping online this year, but wherever possible, try not to get presents delivered while you’re out of the house. If the website you’re buying from won’t let you choose the day the delivery is on, see if you can get the gifts ordered to a work address or a neighbour you know will be home.
Once your shopping is done, consider UV marking expensive items with your postcode. UV pens can be picked up cheaply off Amazon, and this could help get gifts back to you if they’re stolen. If you don’t want to do this, at least make sure you hide the gifts well in your home. Only bring them downstairs to put under the tree at the last possible moment, and make sure you keep your curtains closed at night time.
Check your insurance policy
If you don’t want burglars letting themselves into your property, don’t leave the spare key under a flowerpot or the doormat. These are obvious hiding places, and a canny thief will know to check there. Not only could this allow burglars to come in and steal your Christmas presents, but it could also invalidate your home insurance if you’re looking to claim for stolen gifts.
It’s also worth checking your home insurance policy to see if you’ll be covered in the event of a break-in, as having a lot of Christmas presents in the house may push you over the upper limit of your contents insurance. The majority of home insurance providers should increase their contents cover over Christmas, but the details of this can vary a lot. Some will keep the increased cover for the whole of December, while others will only apply it a few days either side of Christmas. Check the details of your policy to be sure you’ll be covered in the event of a burglary and presents being stolen, and if in doubt contact your insurer directly.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.