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How the Grinch stole Christmas...

15th December 2016

I have a confession. I'm a bit of a sucker for Christmas songs whether it be The Pogue's Fairytale of New York, Slade's Merry Christmas Everybody, or even Chris Rea's love letter to the M18 - Driving Home for Christmas. But you know which Christmas song I've never really understood? Wizard's I Wish It Could be Christmas Every day. At first glance it seems a nice proposition, but think about it - EVERY day? The food, the terrible TV, the Queen's speech 365 times a year... all those sprouts? It doesn't bear thinking about. And if it really was Christmas every day, when are we going to buy the presents with all the shops shut? The whole economy would collapse around us. You didn't think about that, Roy Wood, did you?

Another reason why Roy Wood may want to think again is that if it really was Christmas every day I fear that all of our home insurance premiums would go through the roof. Because research from Halifax shows that burglaries in the month of December rise by a quarter when compared to other months. Unfortunately, if you see a shadowy figure trying to access your house around Christmas time, it may not be the jolly St Nicholas, but rather a trespasser with far more nefarious intentions than simply filling up your stockings.

The weeks leading up to Christmas not only see a flurry of advent calendar door-opening activity, but also our homes filling up with gifts for friends and family. Some of these (if we're lucky) may be of significant value, or the latest electronic gizmo or gadget, and as such will be very attractive to your average burglar. Added to this is the fact that Christmas parties, family visits, or festive holidays also mean our houses can be frequently unattended in the evenings for significant amounts of time. Burglars can take advantage of this, so below I'll list 5 tips to keep your home safe this month and to ensure that the doors on your advent calendars are the only ones being surreptitiously opened when they shouldn't be!

1. Merry Christmas! Where are the presents?

Right, those gifts you've bought. Lovely, aren't they, and I bet you can't wait for the faces of those who will be opening them on Christmas day. But in the meantime, where are you keeping them? Be careful of leaving them where they can be easily seen from outside, providing temptation to anyone that passes by your home or car. Make sure they're not easily seen through windows. Perhaps you're wanting to keep them hidden in a shed or garage instead? Think twice about this too, as the security on these outbuildings is generally much weaker than that of our houses and will be much easier for a thief to access.

2. Lighting the way to ruin the festivities

You can't fail to notice the number of houses currently sporting Christmas decorations. I worry about the pressure on the National Grid as I drive around some neighbourhoods. But I'm no Grinch, honestly and they make everything very festive but I do also worry about where these lights are plugged in. I hope that they're secure in an exterior socket and not plugged in inside the house with the lead trailing through a window. Doing the latter means leaving the window not properly shut, and a burglar can be through that in a second. An electrician can easily fit an external, waterproof power socket outside your house and I would encourage you to do this if you have a festive display of lights.

3. More than just the postman will know what you've ordered...

Black Friday and Cyber Monday may have been and gone, but millions of us will still be ordering gifts online to be delivered in the next couple of weeks. The convenience is wonderful but it brings with us an additional security risk. If you're out, please do not leave a note on your door with instructions to a courier as they will not be the only one to see it. Most retailers will let you leave delivery instructions online at the time of ordering so ensure you do this if needed rather than leave an obvious signal on your door that you're not home.

4. Don't tell the entire street you're going away!

Following on from above, a lot of us will be away visiting family at Christmas, whether voluntary or forced to by our nearest and dearest! Whichever of these is the case, keep the fact that you're away as secret as you can. Use electric timers to turn lights on and off whilst you're away. Get a friend to pick your post up from the mat, lend them a key to come round and check your house periodically, and even ask a neighbour to park on your drive so that it appears your home is occupied. All simple, and perhaps obvious tasks, but they really do work.

5. Be discreet with your box disposal

Finally, Christmas has been and gone and some of us may have shiny new gadgets and devices. All that's left is to throw away the packaging. Be subtle how you do this - having a wheelie bin outside your house with empty boxes from Xboxes, televisions or sound systems rather gives the game away that there's plenty of brand new equipment inside your house and could be an extra incentive to an opportunistic thief. Perhaps take a trip to the local rubbish tip to dispose of this packaging. If this is not feasible at least get rid of it in stages so it's hidden away, or well disguised from any passers-by.

I hope these tips will have given you some food for thought (that food being turkey rather than sprouts), and of course I don't want to make you unduly worried. Although the statistics show an increase in break-ins in December, they also show the majority of us will get through the festive period untroubled by burglars or any other crime. We'll be troubled by family arguments, tussles over the TV remote control, and dodgy stomachs after eating and drinking too much, of course, but that kind of goes with the territory.  All that's left from me is to wish all my readers and customers the very merriest of Christmases and the happiest of New Years. My best wishes to all of you - however you choose to celebrate the festive period. 

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