Don’t give burglars your Christmas presents

Christmas presents.
Christmas presents.

With the festive season now upon us, police in Norfolk are urging people not to make it easy for thieves this Christmas.

As many people finish their last minute present-buying, homes will become a winter wonderland for would-be thieves, filled with the latest must-have gifts and gadgets. Insecure homes in darkness, with valuables on display under the tree, could also offer an easy opportunity.

The warning comes one month after police launched a short online film reminding householders not to make burglary ‘child’s play’ for offenders. The one minute film, broadcast on Norfolk Constabulary’s YouTube channel, featured four-year-old Jack illustrating how lax home security can open the door to opportunist thieves.

Police are urging homeowners to also consider the following 10 simple steps to help beat burglars this Christmas.

T/Chief Superintendent Nick Davison, head of the County Policing Command, issued the following warning, saying: “Many of us will be stocking our homes with the latest electronic gadgets and expensive gifts in preparation for Christmas. Unfortunately, this gives thieves the perfect incentive to break into properties.

“Simple precautions can help reduce the chances of your home being targeted by thieves. Leaving lights on when you are out of the house will give the impression someone is at home, it can be easy for criminals to identify properties where no one is at home if a house is in complete darkness.

“Ideally doors and windows should be locked wherever possible and keys kept out of sight. Expensive gifts and even wrapped presents will draw the attention of a thief so try to avoid storing items near windows.”

Residents are also encouraged to look out for neighbours and report any suspicious activity to police.

T/Ch Supt Davison added: “Officers can be immediately dispatched to a scene and the sooner we are called, the greater chance we have of detaining a suspect. You know your communities better than anyone else so if something or someone seems out of place, call 999. This could be anything from someone hanging around a property, carrying unboxed electrical goods, unusual items, heavy bags or pillowcases or clambering over fences. We would rather be called by a dozen people and find it is a false alarm than not be called at all.”

Property stolen from burglaries will often be sold on for a fraction of its real value, as T/Ch Supt Davison explained.

“Quite often if a deal is too good to be true, it probably is. If you hear about stolen property being offered or sold please tell us. One day it may be your property they’re trying to sell and under those circumstances you’d appreciate someone else giving us a call.”

Police are also urging motorists to make sure presents are not left on display in cars and that bags of shopping are kept out of sight in the boot. Motorists are advised to keep cars locked and to remove anything from display which could attract the attention of a passing thief.

Help to beat the burglar this Christmas by following Norfolk Police’s top 10 tips:

• Deter would-be criminals – motion sensor lighting (where appropriate), lockable gates and high fences/walls will help make access to your home harder and too noticeable for comfort.

• Check your doors and windows – fit (and use) locks to all ground floor windows and fit additional locks to all external doors.

• Festive lighting? External lighting is an increasingly popular decoration at this time of year but avoid feeding electric cables through partially opened windows – burglars know to look for this vulnerability.

• Cashing in? Keep the amount of cash you have in the house to a minimum.

• Make your mark – security mark (house number and postcode) expensive/attractive items such as TVs, laptops and games consoles and record details and photograph for reference.

• Don’t hide keys – burglars will know to look for hidden keys under rocks, mats, flowerpots or on ledges. Instead give a spare key to a family member.

• Keep curtains and blinds closed at night – make sure valuable items are left out of sight. When you go out for the evening make use of timer plugs for lights.

• Secure garages and sheds – fit additional padlocks and make sure tools are not left lying around the garden and that outbuildings are locked.

• Plan ahead for holidays – if you’re going away over Christmas cancel any newspaper subscriptions and milk deliveries, arrange for a neighbour to park in the driveway while you’re away and make use of light timers.

• Christmas wrapping – dispose of packaging carefully and try to avoid leaving boxes outside, advertising the new contents of your home.