With only three weeks to go until Christmas, Cheshire Police are advising the public to be on their guard against burglars who target homes filled with gifts over the festive season.
The warning forms part of ACPO′s national burglary campaign. Over the past few weeks, police forces across the UK have been providing crime prevention advice to communities and taking action to combat thieves.
Nationally, burglary has fallen. You are now three times less likely to be the victim of burglary than in 1995. However, there is a trend for an increase in burglaries around the Christmas period so it is important that people take simple precautions to protect themselves and their belongings.
In the run up to Christmas, criminals are on the lookout for signs of expensive purchases such as visible presents underneath Christmas trees, packaging on display or old electronic goods left outside suggesting new replacements have been purchased.
As market conditions have changed, the items most desired by burglars have also altered. Jewellery, cash and high value items that can be readily sold onto others are now more desirable than bulkier items that have little resale value. Smart phones, laptops, tablet computers and e-readers are all expected to sell well this December; their size and high value mean that they are also items on burglars′ Christmas lists.
Burglars can be both highly organised international criminals and opportunistic thieves but they all looking for high value items and an easy way in.
In November 2012, Cheshire Police dealt with an incident in which burglars targeted a home that had been left in darkness. The thieves stole a number of Christmas presents, in addition to jewellery and high value electrical items.
Anyone can become a victim of burglary but poor home security is the factor that makes people most vulnerable. Analysis of the Crime Survey 2009/2010 found that households without window locks and dead locks on outside doors were six times more likely to be burgled than those with these security fittings.
ACPO lead on burglary, Nottinghamshire Police′s Assistant Chief Constable Paul Broadbent said: "Burglary can mean much more to victims than the loss of possessions. It can leave them feeling scared, violated and vulnerable. If items are not insured, it can also lead to financial as well as emotional strain. A burglary over the Christmas period can almost certainly ruin the holiday.
"The police service has worked hard to tackle burglary and this is evident in the recorded crime figures, which show a six per cent fall in burglary in June 2012. We have made great use of new technology, DNA evidence and CCTV digitalisation in apprehending burglars. Restorative justice and work to divert individuals away from a life in crime have also been successful over recent years.
"This year we want to make sure people are aware that the most effective way to prevent becoming a victim of burglary is simple: secure property properly and remove high value items from view. Follow the tips below to keep your home safe and secure this Christmas."
- Don′t leave presents under the tree, particularly if visible from windows or doors.
- Make use of the free and secure registration websites to register items of value such as I.T., mobile phones, cycles, electrical items such as TVs, games consoles etc.
- Dispose of present packaging carefully as empty boxes left outside can advertise that you have new and desirable goods inside your home.
- Never keep large amounts of cash at home.
- Ensure that all doors and windows are locked - use a dead or double lock on outside doors
- Lock up sheds and garages so thieves cannot gain access to ladders and tools which they could use to gain access to your home.
- Never leave keys anywhere near the front door; burglars know where to look.
- When you go out at night, consider leaving the lights on with curtains drawn so it looks like someone is home.
- Visit www.securedbydesign.com for police approved security products.
If you do arrive home and notice signs of a break-in:
- Don′t go in or call out − the intruder could still be inside.
- Go to a neighbour′s to call the police.
- Don′t touch anything or tidy up.