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When you go on holiday how secure have you left your home?

So we all know how important it is to arrange that peace of mind travel insurance especially when travelling to Europe to supplement our EHIC and further afield, but what about your home, who is looking after that?

At the same time as booking your holiday, start to think about your home security. Burglars don’t take holidays and if it looks like you may be away, then your home could become their next target.

Here are some suggested tips to secure your home against those unwanted intruders:

  • Why not invest in a small safe and during the lead up to going on holiday, important documents like passports, travel documents and holiday money can be kept secure. It must be dreadful to be burgled prior to your holiday and have all of your spending money stolen. Even more so while you are away use it to keep any credit cards, jewellery and cheque books secure. You may find that your home contents insurance recommends the use of a safe or may reduce your excess if you use one, check your policy wording for more details or speak to your home contents insurer.
  • The front of my house is visible to all who pass by, is yours? I know for some people gardening will be the last thing on your mind, however try and make it look like it is cared for and that you have no high bushes that burglars can hide behind. Some people may think having high trees or bushes helps to hide the property, but all it does is allows a hiding place for those wanting to break in. A well tendered garden with plants that haven’t seen any water for two weeks, is an instant giveaway that no one is at home, so ask a neighbour to water it for you.
  • Remove any items from the front of the house that could be used to climb up such as ladders and garden tools that could be used to break windows. If you have a shed at the front of the house, make sure it is secure and if not remove items that could be useful for a burglar.
  • Make sure all windows are closed and locked. If you have a side gate is it secure, why not think about fixing a security device onto the top of the gate to prevent access.
  • I have some automatic switches in my house and these enable me to turn lights on or even a radio at specific times of the day to make it look like someone is at home. The radio is more useful especially in the summer months, how can the burglar know if someone is not at home listening to it.
  • Do you have a newspaper or milk delivered? Cancel them but don’t publicly explain the reason why, you don’t know who may be listening.
  • Ask a trusted neighbour to collect your post or at least move it away from the front door. A pile of post on the door mat is a clear sign no one’s at home. The Royal Mail offers a Keepsafe service and they will keep your mail for up to two months.
  • While the neighbour is sorting your post out, why not ask them to close your curtains in the evening or turn the blinds. If they have two cars and not enough space outside their own home to park them, offer the use of your drive. Having a car parked outside will help in deterring unwanted guests.
  • Keep all of your internal doors locked and remove the keys, this will at least delay the burglars but more so, they will not want to be heard kicking doors down to gain access. Don’t label the keys, but make a list of the key numbers to refer to each room and keep that secure.
  • Never leave keys on show or near the front door. Why not invest in a keysafe and keep it in your locked safe with your other valuables. Just think of all the keys you have in the house lying around right now, car, house, garage and shed keys. If they have access to any of these keys you can wave goodbye to your brand new lawn mower, strimmer, golf clubs in the garage and if the burglars arrived on foot, they could be leaving in your car packed full of all of your worldly possessions.
  • Disconnect your answer machine or re-word your greeting to make it sound like you are only temporarily unable to answer.
  • If you have a burglar alarm, make sure it is serviced and switched on! Ensure all parties that have access to either keys or passwords for the main switch panel are aware you are on holiday. False alarms can be annoying but make sure someone will respond on every occasion in the event the alarm is triggered, you never know if it may be a genuine call to action.
  • Now this one may surprise some people and I bet you hadn’t thought of it, what about social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. How secure are your account permissions, are your updates available to the public or just friends. Do you know who the friends are of your friends, who’s seeing your posts, you never know some unscrupulous person may be trolling the sites looking for people advertising they are about to go on holiday. It is one thing posting pictures and discussing holidays when you have returned, but it is not always a good idea to speak so openly prior to travelling.

House protectionIf you would like more information about home security, why not visit the Metropolitan Police website and read the guidelines on how to protect your home.

Free Spirit travel insurance can give you the peace of mind protection you need, that in the event of a medical emergency abroad we will be on hand to help you. Make sure though, you have sufficiently protected your home against unwanted visitors, so that you do not have an unpleasant experience on your return.