Keep your home and garden safe

Burglaries are expected to rise as lockdown measures are eased, so it’s vital to ensure your property is properly secured at all times

Woman planting flowers in her backyard

The recent sunny spell has prompted many of us to let the outside in by opening our windows and doors, but this can make our homes a tempting target for opportunistic thieves.

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Burglaries are expected to rise as lockdown measures are eased, so it’s vital to ensure your property is properly secured at all times – even if you’re only popping out for a few minutes. Mick Duthie, director of operations at the charity Crimestoppers, said: “Having your home burgled can be not only a costly experience but also emotionally traumatic. As we come out of lockdown, it’s crucial that we all ensure our homes are as secure as possible. This spring could feel like the Christmas burglars didn’t have last year, because we stayed at home.”

Many people have bought expensive items to keep themselves entertained during lockdowns, such as TVs, computers, and sports equipment. According to research by John Lewis, the average household has bought over £4,000 worth of goods during the pandemic to help them work, exercise and entertain themselves at home, but over half of those surveyed (59%) haven’t adjusted their home insurance policy so that their new possessions are protected. If you do purchase an expensive item, it’s vital to let your insurer know so that they can adjust the level of contents cover you have accordingly.

Plenty of us have also invested in new items for our gardens, such as outdoor furniture and barbecues. Direct Line Insurance says that more than half of those with a garden have spent money improving their outdoor space since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, spending an average of £942 each.

If you do have any valuables outside, it’s well worth keeping them shut away when you’re not using them. According to insurer Aviva, popular items thieves typically steal from outside areas include garden ornaments, power tools, lawnmowers, barbecues, furniture, and ladders. It says that as the UK went into the first national lockdown in the spring last year, ‘thefts in the open”, which includes garden-related claims, accounted for 11% of the total UK home insurance claims, compared to 3% for the same period during the previous year.

Worryingly, separate research by Churchill Insurance found that despite the average value of items stored in an outbuilding being £1,414, more than two thirds of us (67%) admit our outbuildings are easily accessible. Since the beginning of 2018, more than £30m worth of goods have been stolen from garden sheds and outbuildings across England and Wales.

Sarah Applegate, head of risk for Aviva General Insurance said; “There are a few simple steps people can take to protect their outdoor possessions. Make sure gates and garden buildings are properly secured, lock away portable items in the evening to avoid opportunistic thefts, and be careful what possessions you share on social media – you never know who may be watching.”

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