Christmas is almost upon us, and while many of us are looking forward to the party season, there are those who look forward to Christmas for very different reasons. Crime rates spike around the festive period with thieves enticed by presents on display under the tree and targeting empty homes while you’re out visiting family and loved ones.

Here, Dr Steffan George, development director of The Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) – the leading trade association for the locksmithing profession – shares his top tips on how to keep your home safe and secure over the festive period.

While it may be traditional to keep gifts under the tree during the weeks leading up to Christmas, this can also be an advertisement to potential thieves if they are clearly visible from the outside. Consider placing your tree out of sight and away from the window, in particular away from those that look onto busy streets.

Once the excitement of Christmas is over, and the presents are unwrapped take care when disposing of any packaging or boxes. Leaving these outside your home can tell passers-by what’s in your home. Store boxes in your shed or garage until waste collection day and avoid leaving them outside of your home.

Christmas can also be a particularly busy time of year, with the party season in full swing, last minute Christmas shopping, decorating and cooking, so it is important not to neglect your security routine. With this in mind, ensure that all windows and doors are locked before dashing out the house.

If you do get locked out your local MLA licensed locksmith can help you. We recommend that you store their number in your mobile phone. Many MLA member companies operate on a rota so that there will always be someone on hand to help you even on bank holidays. MLA members also agree to a code of conduct which states that they must charge reasonable and transparent rates, meaning that there will be no nasty surprises on top of your Christmas spending.

While Christmas is a time for enjoying the occasion with family and loved ones, if you do plan on spending the festive season away from your home don’t shout about it on social media. Posting your festive plans on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media sites can potentially inform thousands of strangers your home will be empty.

While security equipment may not be at the top of your list for Christmas spends there are however, some simple and cost effective steps you can take to deter potential thieves.  Investing in an inexpensive light timer can help to ensure your home doesn’t look empty. Fake TVs and dusk-till-dawn external lights can also make burglars think twice about entering your property.

Also consider asking an MLA accredited locksmith to review your doors and windows to make sure they have adequate locks and meet your insurance requirements. Always look for third party accreditation on your security devices, such as Sold Secure approval.

To find a locksmith in your area visit the user-friendly MLA website at www.locksmiths.co.uk. To review a list of independently tested and approved security products visit the Sold Secure website at: www.soldsecure.com. Security guidelines for domestic properties can also be downloaded free of charge from http://www.locksmiths.co.uk/security-advice/security-guidelines-for-domestic-dwellings/.



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