Security experts have offered their advice on keeping your home safe while you visit family over the festive season. 

ADT UK, a home security company, has warned homeowners about the potential dangers of leaving your residence without taking precautionary measures. 

The company says that thieves will often take advantage of homes that are obviously empty, but has offered its advice on how to ward off intruders. 

Pause or reschedule any deliveries

package delivery
Packages piling up can be one way to alert thieves to your absence. (RoseBox on Unsplash)

Expecting packages while you’re away? Delivery drivers may leave your parcels in what they consider a ‘safe place’, assuming you’ll be home shortly to pick it up.

However, a pile of parcels is a clear indication to burglars that you’re on holiday.

To avoid being targeted, ask a neighbour to collect any parcels for you or re-schedule any deliveries.  

Make slippery slopes

Many burglars obtain access to your home using drain pipes, low fences, or walls that are easy to climb. Investing in anti-climb paint will leave a sleek, more slippery surface that will make surfaces difficult for thieves to scale.

Secure your windows and doors

lock door
Locking doors may be second nature, but remember to check all of your windows before you leave. (The Blowup on Unsplash)

Make sure you secure all windows and doors, remove any keys from locks or where intruders can see them and bring in your spare key from its hiding spot.

Before you leave, taking a few moments to ensure your home is properly secure is well worth it for the safety of your property and for your peace of mind. 

Ensure your house looks lived-in

Whilst you may be tempted to leave your lights on for the whole time you are away, thieves will spot this. Using automatic timer switches for turning on a few well-appointed lights and a radio or TV will ensure your house does not seem empty.

Be sure to have lights come on at different times throughout your time away to help deter any thieves.

Clean up your garden

Thieves look for escape routes and hiding spots when deciding which homes to break into, meaning gardens with high, overgrown hedges are more likely to be targeted.

Before you leave, give your garden a thorough tidy-up to make your property less likely to be targeted whilst you’re away.

tidy gaarden
A tidy garden can make it harder for thieves to gain access. (Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash)

Get a trusted companion to help you out

Asking a family member, friend or neighbour to come over every day will create the illusion that someone is living in your house.

Ask them to move any post, open and close blinds and curtains, and park a car in your driveway, to put off any potential burglars who could be monitoring your home. 

Keep your holiday off social media

person on phone
Thieves can scan social media to see when you are away from your home. (Jonas Leupe on Unsplash)

Social media is increasingly being used by burglars to find empty houses, with thieves watching Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts to work out when residents are away.

Avoid posting about your break on any social media platforms whilst you are away and instead wait until you are back home to update your friends and family about your trip.

Don’t leave empty milk bottles with a note

If you regularly receive a milk delivery, pause your order before departing for your holiday.

The best way to do this is by contacting your milk delivery service directly, rather than leaving empty milk bottles with a note attached. This is a common mistake that potential thieves may pick up on.

Postpone your mail service

The accumulation of post in your mailbox is clear evidence of inactivity in your home. To prevent this, contact your local post office or apply online to request the postponement of your mail service for the time you are away.

Once you’ve returned from your trip your post will be delivered to you, meaning you won't miss any important mail.

Take control of your home security 

From automating your home to making it look like you’re in when you’re not, there is a wide range of innovative home security products available, designed to protect your home while you’re away.

ADT says that when their alarm is triggered, the monitoring centre is immediately notified, prompting them to notify you and your keyholders of the alarm activation. 

adt security
An ADT security system. (The Blowup on Unsplash)

Michele Bennett, General Manager at ADT UK Subscriber, commented: “Unfortunately, thieves are smart and opportunistic, so whilst it can seem there are an endless number of things to do to prepare for the Christmas period, ensuring you spend enough time securing your property is essential. 

“Locking your doors and windows may seem an obvious step, but the stress of preparing to travel can leave you forgetting to do the most simple tasks. Be sure to remove any keys from doors, make sure all windows are fully closed and not left on the latch, and do a final check before leaving your home.

“Making your house look lived in is essential whilst you're away. There’s no bigger giveaway that nobody is home than the accumulation of post, packages, or bottles of milk at the front door and this is exactly what opportunistic burglars look out for. Pausing these services is an easy way of deterring any thieves from identifying your property as a target.

"Additionally, you need to be clever with your lights, don’t just program them to turn on at the same time every day. Have them switch on at random times throughout the day to really offset burglars - if a thief can’t figure out whether or not you’re home, they’re unlikely to risk trying to break in.”