Ten tips to protect your home

If you're going on holiday, it's worth taking the time to secure your home and property.

Here are a few quick, simple steps that will help to put your mind at ease, so that you can enjoy your time away from home.

1. Lock all doors and windows

Ensure that all doors, including doors to the garden or shed, are fully locked. Shut and lock all windows, especially small windows in the bathroom or round the back of your house. Don’t leave keys to the window nearby or in sight.

2. Set up an alarm system

Install a reliable alarm system which will sound an alarm if anyone attempts to enter your property. Some systems will even link directly to a security firm as an added level of reassurance.

3. Set up lights

Security lighting will illuminate anyone coming close to your property, which can be a big deterrent for would-be thieves. You can also set indoor lights on timers to give the impression that people are home. Set a number of lights in different rooms, on different time schedules, so that the lights come on in a more realistic and varied pattern.

4. Move your post

Piles of unopened letters are a sure sign that someone’s away. Ask a trusted neighbour to move your post out of sight or to empty your mailbox. The Royal Mail also offers a Keepsafe service, which will reserve your post at the sorting office for up to 100 days while you’re away.

5. Don't advertise your departure

Make sure that only people you know and trust are aware of your holiday plans. If you announce your plans to unknown people, they could use the information for an organised burglary.

Don't say you’re ‘away’ on your home or mobile voicemail message.

Consider how you talk about your holiday on social media such as Facebook or Twitter. If you don’t have high security settings on these sites, you don’t know who could see that you’re away.

If you take a taxi to the airport, avoid discussing your holiday plans with the driver unless you know them. You could even make it sound like you have a house-sitter – whether you do or not.

6. Keep curtains and blinds open as normal

Do not draw all the curtains in your house, as this wouldn't look like someone was living there during the day. Keep your blinds and curtains open and move expensive items out of direct sight.

7. Secure your valuables

Don't leave car keys, valuable items or jewellery in sight. Use a secure, well hidden safe or leave precious items with a trusted friend or family member. Don't hide valuables in your underwear drawer or under the bed – these are classic hiding places, which any thief will search immediately.

8. Label your luggage carefully

Most people put a tag on their luggage in case it gets lost in transit. However, the information you leave off the tag can be just as important as what you put on. You should put your name, a mobile phone number, email address and the phone number of your destination if you know it.

Never put your home address or landline phone number. Anyone who sees your luggage tag will know that you're not at home and it's not hard for someone to find out your address from the telephone number. If you really want to put an address, go for a place that isn't your home – such as your work.

9. Inform your neighbours

Tell a trusted neighbour that you’re going away, so they can keep an eye on your property. If you’re on good terms with your neighbour, they may even water your plants, put out the rubbish bins or check up on the property every now and again too.

10. Check your insurance policy

Your home insurance policy should cover you against theft or loss while you're away, but you should still check the details of your policy to confirm which parts of your building or contents are protected.

You may also find that your home will not be financially protected if you're away for longer than 60 days so it's always worth checking with your provider before you travel.

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