For many, Christmas is a time to spend with family and friends and, for some of us, that means upping sticks and travelling for the festive break.

Whether you’re planning a drive across the UK to stay with parents, or an extended trip overseas with some buddies, there’s nothing better then spending the festive period with the people you love, arguments and all.

Yes, the holiday season is great for forgetting your woes and having fun. Sadly, it’s also a time when many homes across the country are burgled. If you’re leaving your property unoccupied, you could be leaving it vulnerable. Apart from the obvious precautions – like installing a security system or CCTV – there are other safeguards to consider whilst your away or even before you leave.

1. Deter opportunistic thieves.

Invest in some good sensor lighting – or even some Christmas lights for the outside of your home. It’ll give the impression that someone’s in, and it’ll make the house or apartment stand out – which is something most burglars like to avoid if they can.

2. Get a friend to help

Try to arrange for someone to visit your home whilst you’re away. If they can turn the lights on and off, and draw the curtains, that’s ideal. If not, some electric light timers might do the job.

3. Check for weak spots

Take a closer look at your external doors and windows. If there are any easy entry points, make use of some extra locks to boost your security.

4. Keep your personal and bank details safe

Don’t throw receipts and personal statements in the dustbin. It may not be emptied whilst you’re away, and you’ll be exposing yourself to identity theft if you’re not careful.

5. Watch where you throw away your packaging

If your dustbin is packed with the boxes and wrapping that once adorned expensive gifts, you’ll be a tempting target for any passing thief – even if the presents are no longer in your home. Don’t give them any excuse to break in.

6. Cancel regular subscriptions

Don’t forget to cancel your regular newspaper or milk deliveries. If these start piling up people will start to notice.

7. Ask a neighbour to use your driveway

If someone’s regularly parking in front of your home, it’ll be hard to spot you’re away.

8. Watch what you say on your answerphone

Whatever you do, don’t announce that you can’t take a call because you’re in the middle of a BBQ ‘down under’. You never know who might be on the other end of the line – and some might love nothing more than to hear that you’re away for a while.

9. Don’t hide your keys

If your friend or neighbour is popping in to check the place whilst you’re away, give them the key personally – don’t leave it under the mat or in the plant pot. Burglars know exactly where to look – and your hiding place won’t be nearly as secret as you think.

10. Watch what you post on social media

We all like to post pictures of our holidays on Facebook and Instagram – but don’t say too much about where you are and when. You’d be surprised by how many people might see it, and they might not all be friends. Most definitely do not tell everyone you’re having a great time and that you’ll be back in Blighty ‘next week’.

11. Keep a record of your most treasured items

If all else fails, you might need to make an insurance claim – so it’s a good idea to take photos of the things you don’t ever want to lose. Make notes of their serial numbers too.

Analysis of claims data by Churchill Home Insurance reveals that even burglars tend to take Christmas Day off – with household crime rates falling dramatically then. But this is no consolation if you’re planning on being away before then – with thefts peaking on 19 and 20 December.

Martin Scott, head of Churchill Home Insurance, commented: “Whilst home security is unlikely to be at the top of homeowner’s minds during the busy festive period, it is clear that, as with any period of the year, our homes remain at risk to burglary.”

Rob Dolbear, managing director of relocation specialist HCR, added: “We manage moves abroad for many of our clients’ employees, and that means they travel to see relatives over the Christmas period. Or perhaps their loved ones might visit them in their new country.

“Either way, it’s so important to ensure their homes are secure whilst they’re away. Our move specialists are always standing by to provide advice and assistance – helping to make sure that everything is kept safe and sound, so that the festive season offers nothing but the very best memories for all concerned.”

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