The summer holiday season presents an ideal opportunity for would-be thieves. Holidaymakers have been targeted in the recent Home Office campaign, as one of the groups most susceptible to burglary at home and theft whilst travelling. So, whether you’re heading off to faraway shores or enjoying the best of British this summer, the experts at Yale have come up with some useful tips to keep you and your home safe and secure during the holiday season.
1. Safe travelling - just as important as securing your home is keeping yourself safe whilst travelling. A recent survey revealed that around one in six Britons travelling in Europe have had something stolen on holiday, with the most common type of theft being pickpocketing, followed by break-ins at holiday accommodation. To keep your valuables secure while you’re away, Yale advises holidaymakers to carry a portable travel safe. These compact safes come with a convenient 4 digit combination lock and can be locked to any immoveable object in your hotel room or while you’re out and about. The safes are lightweight and easily fit in your travel bag, yet are large enough to carry your passport, travel documents and currency.
2. Luggage lockdown – keeping your luggage secure is also important. Combination padlocks can keep your bags and their contents safe in transit, and ID-tag locks can help your luggage to be traced, should it be lost. Yale offers a range of easily identifiable, brightly coloured locks, including a TSA Travel Range that allows US security personnel to carry out security checks, without damaging your locks or luggage.
3. Alarm yourself – remember, alarms aren’t just for the home. Portable alarms can also be used in hotel rooms and caravans to alert passers-by to intruders. Requiring no hardwiring, the Yale range of portable alarms includes door contacts, which can be used on caravan doors, and PIR motion sensors that can be used within hotel rooms or holiday villas.
4. Out and about – when you’re out and about on holiday in this country or abroad it’s easy to feel relaxed and let your guard down, but Yale recommends you carry a personal attack alarm, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar area. And although you should avoid travelling on your own, it’s not always possible, so if you do find yourself alone, you should always inform a friend or family member of your movements. Yale offers an affordable personal attack alarm that is small and discreet to carry, with an ultra loud built-in siren, activated by pulling the hand loop.
5. Mark it – if you’re taking any valuable and important items with you on holiday it’s worth marking your property with your postcode. This will help the police to identify you as the owner if you’re unfortunate enough to have your belongings stolen. It also makes it easier to prove ownership.
6. And if the worst should happen – if you are the victim of theft whilst abroad it’s important to contact the people who can help. If you’re on a package holiday, the tour operator’s rep should be on hand to help you. Similarly, a consular representative also has a responsibility to help British Citizens in difficulty abroad.
For further information and advice, contact the Travel Advice Call Centre at the FCO on 0845 850 2829 or visit www.fco.gov.uk. This site also lists the contact details of all British embassies and consulates.
7. Secure all external doors – it may seem obvious but fitting an incorrect or sub-standard lock can impact on the vulnerability of your home, as well as potentially compromise your insurance. If you’re going away, take the opportunity to check that all doors are fitted with the correct lock. Use a mortice lock and/or a nightlatch that meets British Standard BS3621 on external timber doors. Look out for the kitemark on lock packs and the lock itself. The ‘Secured by Design’ logo also indicates that the lock meets the standards set by the police and insurance companies.
8. Don’t forget the windows – windows are a common point of entry for burglars and can be even more vulnerable if your house appears empty. Make sure all windows are fitted with at least one appropriate lock, especially ground floor windows that have the potential to be accessed easily. Even if your home looks unoccupied, burglars will still avoid smashing windows to prevent leaving DNA if they cut themselves and will instead try to force the window frame itself, so be sure you fit window locks that can withstand force and manipulation.
9. Set your alarm – 60% of burglaries attempted on homes fitted with alarms are unsuccessful. As well as providing a visual deterrent to potential burglars, alarms are vital for alerting your neighbours, especially whilst you’re away from home. Yale’s wirefree alarm kits are quick and easy to install and offer discreet protection for all types of properties, from flats to large family homes.
10. Sheds, garages and outbuildings – don’t tempt opportunist thieves by leaving sheds, garages and outbuildings poorly secured, especially if they include an integral door leading to your house. As well as containing valuable items, many will also have house ladders and tools that could prove useful to burglars. By fitting a heavy-duty padlock, anchor lock or cable, you can secure individual items as well as deter would-be thieves.
Portable alarms are also a great way of securing garden buildings. These battery powered units, which contain movement sensors and sirens, can be placed in the shed or garage, with no need for hardwiring. Yale’s range of portable alarms includes PIR motion sensors, door contacts and a remote key fob.
11. Secure your valuables – you may think you take your most important possessions with you on holiday - your passport, driving licence and bank cards - but it’s also important to secure the things you leave behind, to prevent identity theft. Bank statements, bills and other correspondence all contain your personal details, which may be used to commit fraudulent acts. Plus, with consumer confidence in banks falling, more of us are choosing to store money in the home.
A home safe is an affordable way of keeping cash and valuables safe while you’re away and provides an extra level of protection, should a burglar gain access to your home. Yale recommends using a Certified safe, as they carry cash ratings of up to £2000 and valuables ratings of £20,000, plus ‘Secured by Design’ accreditation, thanks to their thicker walls and doors.
12. Neighbourly help - it’s always a good idea to ask a friend, neighbour or family member to look after your home while you’re away. You may be used to leaving your keys in a ‘safe’ hiding place but this is just inviting trouble, as burglars know where to look. Instead, leave them with a trusted neighbour and ask them to draw the curtains and collect your post too. This can create the illusion that your home is occupied and it’s always good to know someone is keeping a friendly eye on your home.
13. Cancel the papers and milk - think ahead and cancel your milk and papers well in advance. A few days worth of newspapers piled in the porch is a giveaway that you’re on holiday.
All of the Yale security products recommended are available in many large retailers and hardware stores, or through your local locksmith.
For further information on security advice and products, visit www.yale.co.uk.