Holidaymakers should hide their valuables in cereal boxes, packets of pasta and toy boxes before they go away this summer, a panel of former burglars has revealed.
Ex-offenders have revealed their tips and hints on how to avoid a break-in this summer.
They told John Lewis Home Insurance that Britons unsuccessfully try to hide their valuables in living room drawers and dressers, pots and pans and locked safes which are not secured to the floor or wall.
Instead, they advised hiding anything of value in children’s bedrooms – which many burglars rule a no-go area – and under sofas.
A third of those questioned said they would target identity documents during a break-in – including passports, driving licences, credit card and bank statements because of ‘the value associated with them’.
One former offender told John Lewis Home Insurance: ‘Most people have got a ‘bits and bobs’ cupboard in their kitchen where they often keep their keys. Instead, I would hide my car and house keys in the food cupboards if I was going away – rice packets, cereal boxes. They are not going to go through all your food packets. DVD cases is another good place to hide valuables because they are harder to find.’
The study revealed that parcel deliveries left on doorsteps are one of the biggest clues that someone is on holiday – an issue likely to increase as more people order goods online.
Letters and leaflets sticking out of letterboxes and on doormats were seen as the biggest giveaway that someone was away – even more so than leaving lights on, curtains closed, or having no car on the driveway.
One burglar told John Lewis Home Insurance: ‘The increase of online shopping has made it easier – if you’re walking down the road and see a parcel on a doorstep there is a good chance someone is not in.
‘I would suggest not ordering parcels if you won’t be around when they arrive and getting neighbours to check for parcel deliveries regularly while you’re away.’
The best room in the house to leave lights on when you go away is the hallway, half of those questioned revealed – but timer switches were deemed the best option because it creates a better illusion that someone was at home.
Using security cameras – including Smart doorbells with cameras controlled from your phone – was viewed as the best deterrent, even beating burglar alarms.
The research revealed that burglars can spend up to two months watching a house before burgling it – but would spend as little as five minutes inside before fleeing.
One former burglar said he targeted homes between 4pm to 5pm during the ‘school run’ when many houses were empty, while others chose night time, with one saying he chose 3am when most people were asleep.
The research was carried out by John Lewis Home Insurance via surveys and interviews with the help of St Giles Trust, which put the insurer in touch with six reformed former offenders with convictions for burglary.
Working across the UK, St Giles Trust helps a wide range of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups to find jobs, training and homes. Work in prisons and with ex-offenders in the community aims to reduce re-offending and help with resettlement after prison.
Dr Claire Nee, Director of the International Centre for Research in Forensic Psychology at Portsmouth University, has interviewed hundreds of burglars to analyse patterns in offending.
She says: ‘Identity documents are very valuable at the minute due to identity theft for fraud and people trafficking.
‘We also know from both our research and criminal statistics that burglars are going for small, valuable items – jewellery, electronics and cash.
‘Finally, be careful about your conversation on the way to the airport. Talk loudly about your house sitter for instance, not about how you are looking forward to your fortnight away.’
John Lewis Home Insurance’s Top Tips For Securing Your Home This Summer
- Keep curtains and blinds open but move expensive items out of view
- Set up smart home security such as doorbells with cameras so you can monitor your property even while you’re away
- Use an alarm system – some even link directly to security firms
- Use timer switches on indoor and outdoor lights to ensure your home looks occupied
- Ask a friend to move your post or use the Royal Mail Keepsafe service
- Don’t advertise your departure on social media, your voicemail message or out-of-office email
- Lock up your valuables using a secure well-hidden safe
- Label your luggage – but do not put your landline phone number or address on it
- Inform your neighbours you are going away so they can keep an eye on your property
- Check your insurance policy to confirm what you’re covered for – especially if you’re away for more than 60 days
Visit www.johnlewisfinance.com/homeinsurance for more tips on securing your home.