The warmest summer since 2006 has prompted insurance firms to warn about the dangers of leaving your home unsecure.
Open windows and unlocked doors provide an invitation for burglars during the hot weather and insurers are asking homeowners to check the security of their homes.
Research from the AA found that in 75 per cent of cases burglars entered a home through a door but in only 25 per cent of cases did thieves need to force a lock to break into a home.
Tom Stringer, head of AA Home Emergency Response said: "Burglary is largely an opportunistic crime. When burglars look for houses to break into, they'll pass by those that look too much of a challenge – with an alarm or security lighting, for example. They'll often carry on until they find somewhere that looks an easy target, perhaps with windows and doors that can be quickly forced.
"For burglars, best of all are homes where doors or windows have been left open while the householder is doing a spot of gardening, perhaps using a mower, hiding any sounds the thieves might make. People enjoying a noisy barbecue may present an opportunity for thieves as well, as doors may well be left open.
In its research, the AA found that in a typical burglary, over £1,000 worth of goods are stolen, typically including laptops and other electrical items. However, the AA discovered that the cost of repairing damage to property during a burglary, with damage most often done to entrance points such as windows, doors and locks.
"The AA's own home insurance claims data shows that burglaries are quite consistent year-round. People tend to think they're more at risk in winter when burglars are tempted by Christmas presents and dark, early nights. But summer can present rich pickings too," Mr Stringer added.
The AA said that most home insurance policies require the main exit door, normally the front door to be equipped with a five-lever mortice deadlock that meets BS3621. Insurers may offer discounts for additional security such as burglar alarms or membership of a local neighbourhood watch.
"The good news is that burglaries and other property crimes are falling – though of course that's not much comfort to those who've already been affected," Mr Stinger adds.
The AA offers the following ‘lucky 13' tips to help keep your home safe:
- Keep your windows and doors locked when you're not around. Be careful about leaving windows open in the summer if they're big enough for someone to squeeze through
- Security lights could put off burglars if they approach in darkness
- Keep garden furniture, tools and bikes in a locked shed when they aren't being used
- Don't keep keys on a rack close to the door or on a hall table – thieves commonly ‘fish' for them through letterboxes
- If you're going away for a few days, ask a friend or neighbour to pop round and close your curtains and turn the lights on and off so your home doesn't look empty
- A burglar alarm will help put off thieves, but make sure it works – they'll probably be able to spot a dummy box
- Obvious signs like ‘Beware of the dog' suggest you might leave doors open for your pet to get in and out
- Shred documents that reveal your identity – thieves go through bins looking for credit card information or other personal details
- Mark your valuables with a UV pen which could help identify them if they're stolen
- Fitting newer and more secure locks can act as a deterrent
- A tidy garden means there are fewer places (such as overgrown hedges or bushes) for people to hide
- Keep valuable jewellery, heirlooms and documents in a small safe
- Keep a note of serial numbers of cameras, DVD players and other valuable equipment. Take pictures of jewellery or antiques
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