HOUSEHOLDS are being urged to ensure their homes are protected this winter after one mum had £4,000 taken over the Christmas break while her family slept.
Layra Johnson from Maidenhead says she was left feeling scared and violated when her home was broken into over the festive period.
The 38-year-old, who works as a coordinator at a wedding venue, told The Sun she only realised someone had sneaked into her house overnight when she noticed her bag was missing the next day.
“The worst part is that the thief was in our home while my family were sound asleep upstairs,” said Layra, mother to six-year-old Bonnie.
“I felt so violated and scared when I realised that it all happened when we were all tucked up in bed and were none the wiser that there was someone in our home.”
It seemed the burglar gained entry to Layra’s home by reaching through the letterbox and opening the door, and then making off with as many valuables as they could carry.
How to keep your home safe this Christmas
TAKING a few simple steps to avoid Christmas break-ins can mean that you enjoy your time off and have peace of mind that your home and possessions will be protected.
Here are seven ways to protect your property over the holidays.
- Be careful with deliveries. Packages and post left on your doorstep are a sure sign that no-one is home. Make use of “click and collect” services or have your shopping delivered to a trusted neighbour if you’re not going to be home.
- Dispose of present packaging carefully. Empty boxes outside your home are a clue to burglars of new purchases indoors.
- Don’t leave presents under the tree if it’s visible from a window. This could attract burglars. Keep them hidden somewhere a thief is unlikely to bother searching – in the loft is ideal, if you have one – and only bring them out on the big day.
- Check whether your insurer offers extra cover over Christmas. This is to ensure that any presents and extra purchases are protected. In some cases you have to request it rather than it being offered automatically. Sainsbury’s Home Insurance, for instance, offers an extra £7,500 of contents cover in the run up to and after Christmas, while Zurich increases your sum insured by £5,000 one month before and after Christmas or other religious festivals.
- Make sure calendars aren’t visible. If you you use these to keep track of your social engagements or shift work and they’re visible from accessible windows it could give criminals an indication of when the house is likely to be empty.
- If you’re away over Christmas, set up timers on lights. Ensure they turn on and off as if you were there. Consider asking a neighbour to open and close curtains.
- Make sure all doors and windows are locked. Don’t forget about any windows that have wires running out of them for outdoor Christmas decorations.
Layra said: “I’d woken up and gone downstairs to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. I then went to get my cigarettes out of my handbag, but it was nowhere to be seen.
“We discovered then that my then partner’s wallet was also gone, as were several bottles of wine and a SatNav device.
“As it was Christmas time and there was fresh snow on the ground, we could see from the tracks that the thief got away on a pedal bike with whatever he could carry.”
Burglary claims often increase over Christmas, with darker nights making it easier for thieves to break in unnoticed and steal presents and other valuables.
Last year, there was a 16 per cent increase in claims for theft during December last year, according to Halifax Home Insurance.
“It’s that time of year when we focus on celebrating, taking a well-earned rest and spending time with loved ones,” said Tim Downes, senior claims manager at Halifax Home Insurance.
“A burglary or break-in over the holiday season, however, can be devastating during what should be a joyful time.”
Thankfully for Layra her insurer paid out for the stolen items. But not everyone is so lucky.
If you don’t have contents insurance, consider using a comparison site to find the best and cheapest policy for you.
For those who already have insurance, bear in mind that high value Christmas presents, such as laptops or jewellery, may not be covered as standard and may need adding to your policy.
Call your provider to check, and follow the tips in the box above to keep yourself and your home safe.
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