Dark evenings provide rich pickings for opportunist thieves

Halifax Home Insurance is reminding householders to think about the simple ways that can help deter thieves and secure their home as hours of darkness stretch into the daytime.

Martyn Foulds, senior claims manager, Halifax Home Insurance, said: "Being burgled causes homeowners a great deal of stress and upset, not to mention the financial loss. We often see these claims rise around this time of year, with the average burglary claim reaching more than £1500.

"Although home insurance will cover any financial loss, some items such as family heirlooms and items of sentimental value cannot be replaced, so it’s certainly worth taking some simple cost-effective measures to avoid becoming an easy target." 

Valuables

* Keep valuable items out of sight;
* Mark property with your postcode using an ultra violet pen;
* Keep receipts and photographs of valuable purchases as these can help progress a claim;
* Consider installing a safe in your home for items including credit cards, digital cameras and jewellery;
* Have expensive items of jewellery valued every three years by a reputable jeweller

Locks

* Fit visible, key operated window and door locks and keep them locked;
* Pay particular attention to windows on the ground floor;
* Doors that lock from the inside can be fitted with bolts for additional security;
* Don’t risk leaving keys outside the property as you could risk invalidating a claim.

Alarms

* Install an alarm in a prominent position and always remember to set it;
* Remember an alarm won’t stop a burglar getting in.

Gardens

* High walls, railings, and trellising on fence tops can be enough to deter thieves as they slow down a quick getaway;
* Prickly hedges and thorny bushes around the property can also deter thieves and obscure their view of what’s inside;
* Keep bins and ladders out of sight as these can be used to gain access to the property

If you have been burgled

* Report it to the police as soon as possible and obtain an incident number;
* Tell your insurer, quoting the police incident number and giving as much detail as possible about what has been taken and any damage caused to property;
* If the home has been left unsecured after a break in, be sure to notify the police and your insurer.

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