Five tips to avoid Christmas burglaries Protect yourself during a boon time for burglars

14 November 2010

home insurance

Levels of cover offered by these sites varied widely

Brand new, high-value presents offer rich pickings for burglars at Christmas time. But there are some practical tips to help homeowners avoid being victims of crime.

Forget Father Christmas shimmying down your chimney; it’s burglars you may have to contend with this coming festive season. Christmas traditionally sees a spike in incidents of domestic burglary, as organised and opportunistic thieves target homeowners who have stocked up on presents, or who leave their homes unattended while off visiting relatives.

However, there are some sensible precautions that can be taken to reduce the likelihood you'll be a victim of crime - and ensure your home insurance will cover you should the worst happen.

Top home insurance tips

1. Don’t keep presents on view, and always close your curtains after dark. Don’t keep receipts with your presents either, as this could enable a thief to return what you've bought in exchange for cold hard cash.

2. Don’t put wrapping and discarded boxes out for refuse collection too early, and consider concealing it among other types of rubbish. Obvious packaging left outside your property could alert a burglar to the presence of high value items - just the kinds of things they will target.

3. Check that your doors and windows are locked when they aren't in use. According to Northampton Borough Council, one in four burglaries occurs because the homeowner forgot to lock up properly.

4. Secure outside decorations and Christmas lights. According to research conducted by, 12% of homes had decorations stolen last Christmas!

5. Ensure that you have the right level of home contents insurance. If you are spending a small fortune on gifts at Christmas, remember to inform your insurer that you'll have new, expensive items under your roof. 

Your premium is unlikely to rocket, but letting them know will afford you peace of mind should your home be burgled. Taking photographs of valuables will also help with the identification of goods should they be stolen, and will make any insurance claim you submit easier to process.

Preparation equals prevention

Which? insurance expert Dan Moore said: ‘Christmas should be a happy time of the year, but for some it can end up a nightmare. There are some simple things we can all do to limit the chances of being victimised by a burglar. Keeping valuables out of plain view and making sure you have the right level of home insurance are key considerations if you want a happy Christmas.’

You can also check out our guide to the best burglar alarm brands, based on a survey of burglar alarm owners, to help you chose the best alarm to keep you protected.

Wintery weather woes

Burglary is not the only potential source of woe for homeowners at this time of year, with extreme weather causing problems for many homeowners. 

While a decent buildings insurance policy will cover the majority of claims, homeowners have a responsibility to maintain their property. For this reason, it is advisable to undertake a few maintenance checks before the bad weather sets in. These include:

1. Checking water pipes in lofts and cellars are in good condition, and insulating them as required.

2. Ensuring roof tiles are secure.

3. Clearing guttering and drains of leaves and other debris.

4. Checking for damp and drying affected areas (using a humidifier if required).

5. Informing your home insurance policy provider of any improvements you make to your property. 

pound coins

Which? Money when you need it

You can follow @WhichMoney on Twitter to keep up-to-date with our Best Rates and Recommended Provider product and service reviews.

Sign up for the latest money news, best rates and recommended providers in your newsletter every Friday.

Or for money-saving tips, and news of how what's going on in the world of finance affects you, join Melanie Dowding and James Daley for the Which? Money weekly money podcast

For daily consumer news, subscribe to the Which? news RSS feed here. And to find out how we work for you on money issues, visit our personal finance campaigns pages.