Christmas time for burglars

The presents are under the tree, you're out enjoying yourself - what a lovely scene for a thief to behold. Gwenda Joyce-Brophy reports

The Christmas tree is bedecked with baubles and twinkling lights, and surrounded by piles of enticingly wrapped presents. It's a lovely sight. Especially to burglars.

Christmas is the busiest time in the burglar's calender. The reasons why the holiday season is such a bumper time for rich pickings are straightforward says Roy Emslie, crime prevention officer with the Metropolitan Police. Properties are, quite simply, more vulnerable at this time of year.

Homes are more frequently left empty in the whirlwind of shopping trips, social events and visits, while the elongated holiday break itself has encouraged more people to take a holiday, leaving their property unattended for even longer periods. Add to that the fact that the prospective booty is beautifully easy to target - conveniently left either in the hall or sitting room - and for burglars the situation is like ... well ... Christmas.

The statistics tell the story; burglaries from residential properties peak, not as commonly believed, in the traditional holiday month of August, but in the November to January period. Hero Brown was amongst the statistics last year, victim of one of the 24,000 burglaries reported to the Metropolitan Police in the November to January period. In her case, the burglars visited on Christmas day.

"We had gone to visit my parents in Wales, and spent a lovely Christmas day with the family," she says. "We were enjoying the break from London - in fact, we were in the middle of a country walk when we got the phone call. It seems the burglars had got in on Christmas morning. Our holiday came to an abrupt end and we went back to face a ransacked flat. Everything had gone - cameras, video recorders, jewellery and my brand new computer."

The burglars had made their entry through a communal front door that should have been secure, but the security lock had been left undone.

Paul Bickerstaffe also featured amongst the national statistics last year, although in his case the burglars managed to ruin his family's Christmas without even getting into the house. "We had bought bikes for the children, and to keep them as a surprise for Christmas stored them in the garden shed". A week before Christmas thieves helped themselves to both bikes, leaving Paul and his family bereft. "It wasn't just the cost, although there was no question of replacing them, it was the sheer audacity and callousness of the people who took them". Garden sheds are a very popular target with burglars, and an area of security often overlooked, even by people who are security conscious about the house itself.

However, it is precisely because most burglars are essentially opportunist, homing in on the weakest link in a property's security, that much that can be done to strengthen a property's defences - and deter burglars. Strong, secure doors with adequate locks (see box) are the first line of defence. Over half of all burglaries involve the thief gaining access from the back, so back doors and windows need at least as much attention as the front entrance. But security awareness and cooperation is equally vital - however advanced the specifications of the locking system a nifty thief can rapidly burgle several flats in one property given just one communal entrance carelessly left undone.

If you are going away, asking neighbours to check on the property. Leaving lights on during the evening can help, although city life often offers few opportunities for relying on neighbours given that you may not even know them. Consider letting friends house-sit - a solution that many urban dwellers are increasingly adopting.

No property is immune from the threat of burglary, but, as many of those who experience a burglary realise in retrospect, there is usually scope for making it more difficult for a would-be burglar to get the chance to spoil what should be nothing less than a joyful time.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

    £16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

    KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

    £100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

    IT Systems Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

    IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

    £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

    Day In a Page

    Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

    Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

    ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
    Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

    Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

    Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
    'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

    The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

    Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
    BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

    BBC Television Centre

    A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
    Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

    My George!

    Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
    10 best rucksacks for backpackers

    Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

    Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world