An empty house is an open invitation to the opportunistic criminal. Especially if the signs are obvious that the property is unoccupied.
Certainly, England star Raheem Sterling learned the hard way he was away from home after armed burglars broke into his Surrey mansion while the Chelsea striker was on duty in Qatar.
The footballer rushed to England to comfort his young family.
Protect your home: UK burglary figures are grim – with one clerk every 40 seconds
Yet even if your moves go unannounced via the world’s most-watched sports tournament, in the excitement of planning a long-awaited trip, it’s easy to overlook the things that scream “nobody home” to a burglar. .
The figures for domestic burglaries in the UK are grim – with one committed every 40 seconds.
Luckily, there are things we can do to make our homes look like they’re lived in when we’re away, creating what’s called a “mockup” – the simulation of an occupied property.
>> Read our guide to finding the best home insurance
Plan ahead if you go
The key is in the planning. So before you leave, hang up any deliveries that might be left at your doorstep. A milk bottle or uncollected mail are the obvious culprits.
This also prevents you from making impulse purchases from your deckchair.
Anything you buy could very well arrive before its delivery date and be an open invitation to an opportunistic criminal.
Remove flowers from windowsills too, says Kevin Spencer, product management manager at Yale UK. “Withering leaves or flowers can be a telltale sign that you’re not home.”
Ask someone to close and open the curtains
Put the neighbors on your side. Not only to pick up unexpected or rogue deliveries, but also to ask them if they want to park in your front driveway while you’re away – an easy gesture to make the house seem occupied.
“And have your neighbor or family come by every few days to pull and close blinds and curtains,” suggests Robin Knox, founder of home security company Boundary.
“For burglars doing their homework, it will look like people are going in and out during the day.”
If you don’t have anyone to help you, leave the blinds down with the louvers angled slightly to let in some outside light without allowing a clear view of your rooms from the outside.
As for the curtains, in the absence of anyone to help them, Steffan George, chief executive of the Master Locksmiths Association, suggests leaving them open, “because curtains that remain closed for days seem much more suspect”.
Armed burglars broke into England star Raheem Sterling Surrey’s mansion while he was on duty in Qatar
Redirect your message
If you don’t have neighbors who can help you, in addition to canceling deliveries, consider setting up a Royal Mail Keepsafe account (£16.50 for up to ten days royalmail.com/keep-safe).
“This will hold mail for up to 66 days and deliver it the day after you get home,” says Steffan George.
When it comes to deliveries, it might be worth investing in a smart delivery box. These are locked containers that delivery drivers access via temporary PIN codes so packages can be safely dropped off until you get home.
Try the large dark gray Access front and rear smart parcel box (£229.99, smartparcelbox.co.uk).
Keep the (smart) lights on
One of the obvious things is leaving random lights on to confuse a would-be thief.
But if they blaze in broad daylight, that won’t deter a professional criminal.
That’s why it might be worth investing in ‘smart lighting’ – which you can randomly use remotely via your smartphone or pre-program to make your home look lived in.
“You can even select a random function that lights up different rooms and at different times,” says Kate Baker, lighting consultant at 4liteuk.com. Try the 4lite WiZ (£44 per bulb).
Outdoor security lighting with motion detection will also deter burglars.
If you want to upgrade to a “smarter” version, security cameras and lights have now combined to illuminate the front of your home if motion is detected, while allowing you to be notified of any movement directly on a smartphone. Try Yale’s All-in-One Camera (£89.99).
>> Could changing your smart meter readings increase your risk of burglary?
Mow before leaving
Social media is a no-no — despite the temptation to post smug photos of cocktail parties by the beach.
Be sure to keep calendars out of sight of all windows, so an opportunist can’t see if it’s the wrong month – or if you’ve rung “Ibiza, here we come” in red pen on a specific date .
Overgrown front lawns can also be a giveaway, so mow before you leave and get your garden tended if you’ll be away for weeks.
It may sound simple, but make sure you’ve locked all your doors, windows, sheds, and garages before you fly.
Nick Dutton, CEO of door hardware company Brisant-Secure, said: “While CCTV and burglar alarms alert you that someone is trespassing on your property, we believe the best deterrents are those that physically prevent an intruder to enter.”
As a result, he recommends a lock that thieves know they can’t break and – putting its money where it belongs – Breaking-Secure offers a £2,000 guarantee if they do.
“Thieves quickly learn what a secure lock looks like and try another property instead.”
What to do if you need a mortgage
Borrowers who need to find a mortgage because their current fixed rate contract is coming to an end, or because they have agreed to buy a home, have been urged to act, but not panic.
Banks and building societies are still lending and mortgages are still being offered and applications are being accepted.
However, rates change rapidly and there is no guarantee that transactions will last and not be replaced by mortgages at higher rates.
This is Money’s best mortgage rate calculator, powered by L&C, that can show you deals that match your mortgage and property value.
What if I need to remortgage?
Borrowers should compare rates and speak to a mortgage broker and be prepared to act to get a rate.
Anyone with a fixed-rate deal ending in the next six to nine months should consider how much it would cost them to remortgage now — and consider entering into a new deal.
Most mortgage transactions allow fees to be added to the loan and they are then only charged at the time of subscription. By doing so, borrowers can secure a rate without paying costly arrangement fees.
What if I buy a house?
Those who have agreed to buy a home should also aim to get quotes as soon as possible, so they know exactly what their monthly payments will be.
Homebuyers should be wary of overstretching and prepare for the possibility of home prices falling from their current high levels, due to higher mortgage rates limiting people’s ability to borrow.
How to Compare Mortgage Costs
The best way to compare mortgage costs and find the right deal for you is to talk to a good broker.
You can use our best mortgage rate calculator to view offers that match your home’s value, mortgage size, term, and fixed rate needs.
Be aware that rates can change quickly, however, and so the advice is that if you need a mortgage, compare rates and then speak to a broker as soon as possible, so they can help you find the loan mortgage that’s right for you.
> Check out the best fixed rate mortgages you could apply for