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Security concerns for second homes – tips on reducing the chance of theft

At a glance

  • Theft and break-ins from vacant holiday homes are a significant risk for the insurance industry, as Crimestoppers estimates that in the UK, there’s a burglary by illegal entry every 40 seconds
  • We’ve seen a shift in more people staying at home due to the COVID-19 social restrictions, meaning the likelihood of second properties being empty for longer has recently increased
  • There are a few simple steps can be taken to help to protect properties from thieves.

Theft and break-ins from vacant holiday homes are a significant risk for the insurance industry, as Crimestoppers estimates that in the UK, there’s a burglary by illegal entry every 40 seconds.

We’ve seen a shift in more people staying at home due to the COVID-19 social restrictions, meaning the likelihood of second properties being empty for longer has recently increased. From coastal hot spots such as Devon and Cornwall, to culture capitals like London and Edinburgh, the change in staycation behaviour, has provided a prime opportunity for criminals who may be looking specifically to target second homes that appear to be empty. Additionally, the fact that holiday homes are generally quieter over the winter months, with this sees a bigger need to protect your property. There are a few simple steps can be taken to help to protect properties from thieves.

Security tips to help prevent theft 

  1. Keep doors and windows shut: According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), offenders access a home through a door a massive 70% of the time and around 30% of the time they use a window. Make sure doors are robust and secure with good quality mortice locks, preferably a five-lever mortice lock
  2. Use lighting: Outdoor lighting is a brilliant burglar deterrent. Use a low-level light that automatically switches on from dusk until dawn, or fit a light with sensors that switches on when it senses movement outside the property. For a low cost way to keep the property looking occupied, use an inside light timer in the evenings
  3. Fit an alarm: According to both London’s Metropolitan Police and a Which? survey of ex-burglars, you’re less likely to become a victim of a break-in if you have a well-fitted and well-maintained burglar alarm
  4. Smart technology: For extra peace of mind when the property is empty, smart or video doorbells such as Amazon owned ‘Ring’, can provide the additional security of CCTV but in a neat and convenient way. Installed in place of an existing doorbell, they not only provide the functionality of a normal doorbell, but the device will alert you via your phone when someone is at your door and provide video surveillance and recording. You can see, hear and speak to visitors in real-time – giving the appearance that you are at the property
  5. Speak to your Neighbours: If possible, ask your neighbours to be vigilant whilst your property is empty. Advise them to report any suspicious activity in your neighbourhood to 101, or call 999 if they believe a crime is in progress
  6. Remove tools: Keep ladders and tools stored away – these could be used to break into your home. It’s also a good idea to check you have insurance cover for both buildings and contents for any sheds, garages or outbuildings. Keep wheelie bins out of the way too, so they can’t be used to scale the wall or fence. Remember that wheelie bins left out after refuse and recycling collection, can give the appearance that the property is unoccupied
  7. Keep gates shut: Padlock the side gate and make sure it’s likely to be resilient enough to withstand a strong kick. Open gates mean offenders can effortlessly access your home, without being seen by passers-by or neighbours
  8. Pebble paths help prevent crime: Consider gravel driveways, paths and surfaces, which can make it harder for burglars to approach silently
  9. To protect it, register it: Register your valuable possessions online for free on the Immobilise Property Register. The website helps police identify owners of lost and stolen goods
  10. Need to know: Boost home security and avoid publically discussing on social media that your second property is empty or what your travel plans entail – only provide information to those you trust

For more information on this topic, or for any information on how Zurich can help, please speak to your usual contact.

Image © Getty

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