Top tips to avoid a Christmas burglary

Don't make your home a target for burglars this Christmas.

Christmas may traditionally be the time for goodwill - but 'Grinch-like' criminals don't subscribe to that view.

So without wishing to put a damper on the season, it’s important to remember that it is a prosperous time for burglars.

Those pricey presents under the tree are a big draw for thieves, who are only too aware that homeowners may be out enjoying the festivities, visiting family and friends or on holiday.

It goes without saying that nothing can dampen the holiday spirit faster than becoming the victim of a break in - so take steps to keep your home safe and avoid a burglary nightmare before Christmas (see top tips below).

The risk of burglary doesn't end after the presents have been unwrapped. The number of break-ins usually rises after Christmas, reaching its peak on New Year's Eve.

It's always an idea to check what insurance cover you have, should the worst does happen.

Many home contents policies automatically increase their cover during the festive season, but a call to your insurance company will make sure you're protected for all those gifts under your tree - and give you peace of mind.

Top tips to reduce your chances of a Christmas burglary

Look at your house like a burglar would - Christmas is the only time of year when we advertise all the goods in our house to such an extent.

Don't hide your presents in obvious places like under the bed or in the wardrobe. Thieves are less likely to get into the attic.

Before wrapping presents, write down model and serial numbers. Keep receipts separate, so you have a record and thieves can't return your items to the shop.

Don't put gifts under the tree, or if you do, pull your curtains.

After opening presents, put your postcode on with a permanent marker to make them harder to sell on and therefore less attractive to thieves - they are also more likely to be returned to you by police if found.

Rip up present boxes and take them to the tip - they are an indication that a house has brand new and valuable contents.

Make it look like you're in when you're out at Christmas parties and don't make your house vulnerable - keep lights on, windows and gates locked, use alarms and keep a car in the driveway (according to the Home Office, no force is required in as many as a fifth of burglaries because doors and windows are left open).

Secure sheds just as well as houses - they contain just the tools a burglar needs to get into your house. Garden forks are particularly useful, as are makeshift ladders like wheelie bins and trampolines - so keep them chained up.

If you see anything suspicious, contact the Police by dialling 101 from your home telephone.

In an emergency dial 999 immediately.

If you know something about a crime and would like to talk to the police anonymously, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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