Create a habit
Follow a routine so that every time you go out, your house is secure. Always lock up if you’re going out, even if it’s just to a communal area in your building, like a laundry. A surprising number of burglars don’t have to use force – they simply get in through an open window or door.
Leave a visible light on if you go out in the evenings and don’t leave a spare key in a hiding place (for example, under a doormat or fake stone, or in a plant pot). Leave spare keys with a family member, friend or trusted neighbour instead.
You could consider fitting a key safe. This is a secure box fitted to an outside wall, containing a set of house keys and opened by a code. Choose one that’s police approved. Only give the code to trusted people and fit it somewhere out of sight. Age UK’s handyperson scheme or the Home Improvement Agency may be able to help you fit one.
Going on holiday
If you’re going away on holiday, don’t leave your house looking unoccupied.
- cancel newspapers, milk and any other regular deliveries
- create the impression someone is home by using light and radio timers – but don’t use a timer switch in a room that passers-by can easily see into
- tidy up your garden and mow the lawn before you go
- ask a friend or trusted neighbour to keep an eye on things. They could close gates, water plants and make sure post doesn’t pile up. For a fee, you could use the Royal Mail’s Keepsafe service. They’ll hold onto your mail while you’re away and return it to you once you’re back
- put valuable items out of sight or in a safe. You could leave them with a trusted friend or family member, but check whether your or their insurance would cover the items if they were stolen.
- close all your curtains and blinds – this is a giveaway to burglars that no one’s at home
- put your home address on your luggage
- tell anyone outside your family and close friends that you’re going away or for how long
- post your holiday photos on Facebook, for example, until you get back and be careful what you say on social media.
Just before you leave, lock all doors and windows and set your burglar alarm if you have one.
If you’re going away on a longer trip, make sure your house is still covered by your insurance policy. Some insurance policies may not cover a home that's been empty for 30 days or more. If you're planning to be away for a while, you should consider getting unoccupied buildings insurance.