Trick or treating offers perfect cover for burglars
If you read this blog regularly you will know that this time of year, when the clocks go back and darker nights come, is peak burglary season (hence National Home Security Month taking place in October). Burglaries rise by around 20% at this time of year and the 2 key dates that traditionally see the highest number of break ins are Halloween and Bonfire Night. That’s why it’s always good to take stock of your security procedures today.
Why do burglaries increase at Halloween?
Burglaries go up at Halloween for a number of reasons: the clocks have only just gone back so we’re all still getting used to the darker evenings; the weather tends to still be quite mild so many of us are still leaving windows open (the combination of an open window and darkness is like a gift for a burglar); and of course, trick or treating provides perfect cover, whether due to distraction, being out yourself or the increased activity in the streets.
How can you ensure that your home is secure at Halloween?
There are, of course, plenty of things you can do to make sure Halloween passes without incident (at least a burglary-related one anyway!). Follow these tips to stay secure:
|Keep windows and doors closed and locked
Chances are you’ll get a fairly steady stream of trick or treaters at your door and it seems like a real pain having to unlock and re-lock the door every time but don’t be tempted to not lock it. Insecure burglaries account for 30% of break ins and if there was any time when they might take the chance, it’s on Halloween. Always lock up every time.
|Keep back doors locked too
A classic distraction burglary technique is to have someone knock at the front door, keep you occupied there while an accomplice sneaks around the back. With trick or treaters at the front door, they wouldn’t even need a partner in crime. Keep all other entry points to the house locked at all times.
|Move valuables out of sight
Trick or treating can also be a great way of casing your house for a break in later. Many leave curtains open to display their Halloween decorations but this could also reveal items worth stealing. Some unscrupulous adults will also take children trick or treating to see if they can spot anything useful when you open your door with a view to returning later. It only takes a few minutes to move purses, handbags, gadgets and jewellery out of sight before anyone starts their rounds.
|If you don’t want trick or treaters, let them know
Not everyone wants trick or treaters coming to their door. It’s particularly difficult for people with restricted mobility, can be frightening for those living alone and many just don’t want to be disturbed all evening! That’s fine and most trick or treaters won’t approach a house unless it’s decorated or indicates that they’re participating in some way. That said, if you don’t want people knocking you can make it explicit by displaying this poster from West Yorkshire Police, politely letting people know not to come. This means that burglars using the cover of trick or treating have no excuse to approach your house.
|If you’re out trick or treating, secure your home
You may of course be out yourself with the kids. If nobody is going to be at home, make sure your home is firmly secured. Lock all doors and make sure your windows are closed. If you have a burglar alarm, make sure you set it. You can make your home look occupied by leaving lights and the TV on but it’s a sensible precaution to display a ‘No trick or treaters’ poster (see previous tip) so that people don’t come knocking. Nobody would think twice about people approaching your home on Halloween so the best option is to look like you’re in but not participating.
|Physical security measures
Obviously all of these tips so far are largely behavioural but it’s worth looking at your physical security periodically. It’s obviously too late to have any of the following installed for this Halloween but while you’re focused on home security, you should review your physical security measures to see whether it’s fit for purpose. It starts with your doors; we recommend anti-snap locks combined with a secure door such as a Rockdoor – nobody is getting through that without a key! A burglar alarm is always a good idea, whether wired or wireless – a home without an alarm is 300% more likely to be burgled. Security lighting is fairly inexpensive and will deter most burglars from entering your property – it really comes into its own over the winter when it gets dark early. CCTV is also very useful, especially if you experience anti-social behaviour. IP systems are also much more affordable and the image quality is significantly better than analogue.
Halloween is obviously meant to be a fun occasion so we really hope that the only issues you have are running out of sweets or persuading your children they shouldn’t eat their whole stash in one night! Follow these tips and you should be fine.