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Burglary warning as one in four leave doors unlocked while at home

Vicky Shaw, PA Personal Finance Correspondent
·3-min read

One in four people leave their doors unlocked while they are at home – despite many break-ins happening while residents are in their property.

Some 26% of people surveyed for Aviva said they do not lock their doors when they are at home.

And nearly half (45%) leave windows unlocked in unoccupied rooms while they are at home.

The insurer is urging people to be on their guard while at home.

It said that according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) data, 64% of burglary incidents in England and Wales happened while residents were at home.

Aviva said the proportion of burglaries happening while someone is home has crept up, from 57% 10 years ago.

As the evenings become darker, Aviva’s own figures from the past two years show home thefts tend to increase by around 15% in October and November, compared with the usual monthly average.

Aviva said ONS statistics show that in the year to March 2020, 76% of domestic burglaries in England and Wales were accessed through a door, and in 24% of cases where entry was gained, the door was unlocked.

The insurer’s own survey found that 37% of people who have been burgled previously do not lock their doors while at home, as do 32% who have experienced an attempted burglary.

Among those surveyed who have not been burgled, 20% leave their doors locked while they are at home.

Sarah Applegate, insight and strategy lead, global general insurance, Aviva said: “We tend to imagine that burglaries happen when everyone is out, but the unfortunate reality is they can take place at any time, whether we’re home or not.

“Most burglaries are opportunistic, so if a door or window is left unlocked, someone can be in and out of a house in just a few seconds. And if we’re at home but on another floor or in another room, we may not even be aware of an intruder, until it’s too late.

“Our claims data shows that thefts tend to increase during autumn and winter months, so it’s really not worth taking a chance. Simple tasks like locking doors and windows on both homes and outbuildings can significantly reduce the risk of being burgled. We’d urge everyone to get into the habit of locking up, even when at home.”

More than 2,000 people were surveyed across the UK in September for Aviva.

Here are some security tips from Aviva:

1. Do not leave valuables on show near windows.

Shut curtains or blinds in the evening – or even during the day if you are not in the room.

2. Leave a light on to deter burglars.

If you are heading to bed early, consider leaving an energy efficient light on downstairs, or put a lamp on a timer switch so it appears that someone is still awake.

3. Lock doors and windows while you are at home.

It may seem obvious, but 24% of people do not lock doors while at home and 45% leave windows unlocked in unoccupied rooms, which could allow easy access for criminals.

And lock sheds, garages and outbuildings. If they are not attached to your property, you may not hear or see intruders.

4. Tidy up your tech.

More people working from home is likely to mean more laptops and smartphones on the premises. When you are not using devices, put them away out of sight, in a place which is not easily accessible.

5. Be careful when answering your door.

Burglars may push past an occupant to access the property. If you are unsure about opening your door, trust your instincts. You could fit a spy-hole, safety chain or video doorbell.

6. Be vigilant about who is coming and going.

Lockdown restrictions have meant more deliveries for many, but keep a watch on who is visiting your neighbourhood and report any suspect activity to the police. Also call or message elderly or vulnerable neighbours to check they are OK.

7. A dog can be a good deterrent.

Even if you do not have one, a “beware of the dog” sign can be off-putting to would-be thieves.