Summer holidays could lead to 10% spike in Northern Ireland burglaries
As Northern Ireland begins to open up again with restrictions gradually easing off, holidays starting to appear on the green list and the good weather tempting people outdoors to newly opened bars, restaurants and entertainment, home security should rise to the top of every homeowner’s agenda.
New data from CompareNI.com, Northern Ireland’s largest insurance comparison website, shows that more than two-thirds (71%) of people in Northern Ireland do not have a burglar alarm system in their home. Of the 29% who do have an alarm, just 30% admit to having it fitted and maintained annually by an approved alarm company – and only 12% have the alarm monitored.
The findings, which are based on a sample size of more than 350,000 home insurance policies collated over three years, also show that only 23% of homeowners sampled live in an area monitored by a neighbourhood watch scheme – of which only 16% are active members.
Although all district councils had less than a quarter of those living in neighbourhood watch areas actively participating in the scheme, five local districts were above the Northern Ireland average; Fermanagh & Omagh 23%, Newry, Mourne & Down 20%, Derry City & Strabane 18%, Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon 17% and Mid Ulster 17%.
Understandably, home security has fallen down the priority list for many throughout the pandemic, but now is the ideal time to rectify this. Burglaries fell by 28% as a result of lockdown as more people stayed at home, suggesting that without the right measures there could be a rebound in break-ins post-lockdown. What’s more, this coincides with studies that show that during the months of June to August home burglaries spike by 10% compared with the rest of the year.
Normally these months would see a surge of people spending time abroad on holiday or simply out more often enjoying the warmer weather and longer evenings – this could explain the seasonal spike in crime. Post-lockdown, it is harder to predict if this will be the trend again this summer but as holiday restrictions lift, local lockdowns ease and the weather improves, now is most definitely the time for homeowners to be thinking about simple steps to keep their home protected.
Lights - Do invest in light timers to switch on lights, as it approaches dusk for an hour or two it gives the appearance that someone is home. It’s also worth considering installing external security lights that switch on when someone approaches the property, which could act as a deterrent.
Camera - Do make any security cameras or alarm systems clearly visible to potential burglars. If homeowners do not have a system, they can pick up CCTV signs from local police stations. Many new CCTV cameras are small, relatively cheap and unintrusive - they also connect directly to the owners mobile phone with images and videos if they sense someone on the property.
Action – Do take action to improve privacy online. Don’t broadcast plans on social media and if people do want to post holiday snaps, they should make sure settings are set to private with location turned off.
It’s also important for homeowners to check that their home insurance policy is accurate, especially if they’re planning to take an extended vacation. If the owners will be away from home for more than 30 consecutive days, it’s important that the insurance provider is kept updated with any changes in circumstance. If an insurance policy is deemed inaccurate, it could be declared invalid, leaving the homeowner unprotected.
Greg Wilson, Founder of CompareNI.com, said: “As lockdown measures continue to ease, it’s possible we might see a resurgence in burglaries, particularly since there are often more burglaries during the summer months. It is surprising that so few people across Northern Ireland have alarm systems or are involved in neighbourhood watch groups. Now is a good time to rethink the way we protect our homes.
“Even if an alarm system is not something people can invest in right now, there are many other inexpensive tips people can try to help them feel safer and protect their homes, such as connecting timer plugs for lights, storing expensive and easily snatched valuables out of sight and asking callers for ID – genuine callers will never mind this question and the heightened vigilance might just ward off potential thieves.”
CompareNI.com is Northern Ireland’s largest insurance comparison website, and has helped over 660,000 users compare products from hundreds of insurers – with over 30 specialist home insurance providers, covering a wide range of products such as holiday home insurance, buildings and contents insurance and landlord insurance.
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