Are you going on holiday and worried about leaving your home unattended in case of a burglary? We offer you a complete guide to prevent burglaries in your home and to minimise the risks. Adopt basic security routines that will help you keep your home and property safe, and enjoy your well-deserved vacation with peace of mind.
According to data from the Ministry of the Interior, 150,579 burglaries were recorded last year, 35% of which took place in the summer.
In 2019, home burglaries stood at 37,157 according to the crime figures for the first quarter of 2019. Home burglaries account for 50% of all private property burglaries. The other 50% relates to businesses. What can be done to avoid these kinds of statistics? The Guardia Civil has established a series of basic recommendations to prevent burglaries in the home. We have compiled 10 simple suggestions for a safe and peaceful summer.
Basic recommendations to avoid burglaries at home
- Always lock doors and windows. Always lock the door using the key, not just the latch, otherwise it can be easily opened. If you do not have a reinforced door, security experts recommend that it has at least two locking points and that there is no gap between the door and the floor, in order to prevent burglars from entering.
- Don't hide your keys in the letterbox, flower pot, meter box… It is common to use a place near the door to leave an extra set of keys in case of emergency or to provide access to family and friends in our absence, but it is a hiding place easily discovered by thieves and, therefore, unsafe.
- Don't leave the blinds completely closed. Although it may seem obvious, it is a clear sign that there is no one at home and one of the basic recommendations of the National Security Forces and Agencies with regard to the summer period. Keep the blinds up a little so that from the outside it looks like "someone is in". You need to give the impression that the house is inhabited during long periods of absence so as to prevent burglars from targeting your home.
- Only leave clothes on the line during short absences. The idea is to establish simple guidelines that allow the appearance of normality in the home and, above all, that the house is not totally empty. If you and your family are going to be away for a few days, seeing clothes on the line is a sign of normalcy. If the duration is longer, it would be a clear sign of inactivity for the thieves.
- Don't turn the electricity off completely. A disconnected doorbell is an indication of absence.
- Don't leave money, jewellery or valuables at home. Don't leave large amounts of money, keys, chequebooks, card passwords or online banking access codes or valuables such as jewellery, watches or technology devices in plain sight or stored at home. You can use a safe for this type of property. Also, don't leave valuables on unsecured terraces.
- Prepare an inventory with the serial numbers, make and model of electronic devices. Do the same with jewellery and other products of value and high tech items. Keeping photographs will help you in the event that you have to submit a claim.
- Don't discuss your holiday plans with strangers or on social networks. A banal comment might give too many clues to thieves about your absence and its duration. Avoid mentioning your plans on social networks and do not upload photos of your holidays and, if you do so, disable the location for all your networks so as not to reveal this information to strangers.
- On long absences, ask a neighbour to keep a regular eye on your property. With this simple recommendation you can avoid, for example, the piling up of letters in your letterbox and the impression that you are away from home. Ask your friends and family to make periodic checks on the state of the house, turning on some lights occasionally and turning on the radio and television at times to create a sense of normality. Leave a contact phone number with your neighbours so that they can reach you in case of emergency.
- Before you go, if you notice any strange people in the street or any cause for concern, such as marks on the door or entrances, or unusual noises in unoccupied houses, call 112. Remember to make a note of any suspicious activity or vehicles.
Alarms, safes and insurance
The key to a safe and peaceful holiday is to follow these simple safety guidelines. In addition, you can consider the use of security systems:
- Install some kind of deterrent such as a reinforced door that deters thieves.
- Reinforce the hinges with steel pins and metal brackets that prevent the door from being jimmied. Install panoramic peepholes.
- Protect your windows by installing bars, primarily on the ground and first floors.
- Use safes for valuables to keep them in a secure place away from thieves.
- Use a timer system for the lights that mimics activity at home during your absence.
- Assess the possibility of installing an alarm system or security cameras connected to a central system that allows a 24-hour surveillance service and immediate action in the event of a risk situation.
What to do in the event of a robbery
- If you find your front door open or a window broken, don't go in. Call the Police (091) or the Guardia Civil (062). Don't touch anything inside because you could destroy evidence.
- When making the report, provide documentation of the stolen items, such as invoices, photographs, etc. On this point, please remember our previous recommendation to write down serial numbers of the household appliances, photographic and video equipment and to photograph jewellery and other valuable items.
- Contact your home insurance company to report what has happened, but first check the general and particular conditions of your contract to see whether theft is covered under your policy and what limits are in place.
Enjoy a safe and peaceful holiday following some simple guidelines. Remember to lock doors and windows, leave no valuables in view and take basic steps to give the impression that the house is inhabited at all times.