Brits warned of spike in house burglaries as Covid lockdown 'stay at home' rule lifts and criminals zero in on gadgets

BRITS have been warned of a spike in burglaries as the Covid lockdown "stay at home" rule is lifted.

Crime prevention charity Crimestoppers has told homeowners to take precautions amid fears of a surge in break-ins once stay at Covid home guidance ends on April 2.

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Burglaries slumped 20 per cent last year compared to 2019 as Britain went into national lockdowns.

Criminals lost out on £103million in 2020 as homeowners stayed indoors, but there are fears the easing of restrictions could lead to a spike.

Workers heading into offices and Brits going on holidays will mean more homes could be empty for long periods for the first time since last March.

Mick Duthie, director of operations at Crimestoppers, said: "As we come out of lockdown, it’s crucial that we all ensure our homes are as secure as possible. 

'LICKING THEIR LIPS'

"This spring could feel like the Christmas burglars didn’t have last year, because we stayed at home."

Purses, jewellery, watches and computer equipment are among the most stolen items during break-ins, Office for National Statistics showed.

Electrical goods (including cameras), household items (including furniture) and mobile phones were also popular with burglars.

Research by John Lewis Insurance showed more than 71 per cent of people have bought big ticket items such as gym equipment, tablets and televisions since March last year. 

Most stolen items in burglaries

ONS figures reveal the belongings that are targeted most frequently during break-ins

  1. Purses, wallets, money/ bank cards.
  2. Jewellery/ watches.
  3. Computers/ computer equipment.
  4. Electrical goods/ cameras.
  5. Household items/ furniture.
  6. Mobile phones.
  7. Vehicles/ vehicle parts.
  8. Car keys.
  9. Handbag/ briefcase/ shopping bag.
  10. Clothes.

Shoppers splurged an average of £4,300 on luxury items during lockdown, a survey of 2,000 UK adults. 

Home insurance company Hiro has warned crooks will be "licking their lips" at the prospect of post-lockdown vacant properties.

Krystian Zajac, chief executive of Hiro, said: "'Just as legitimate businesses are looking forward to a post-pandemic sales bounce, criminals will also be looking to recoup their losses, with burglars missing out on £103.2million worth of crime in 2020.

"Of course, we don't feel sorry for this group – but they'll be licking their lips at the thought of millions of properties left vacant as families rush to enjoy long-postponed holidays.

"Now is the perfect time to act and to make sure your home is as safe as possible."

Precautions that homeonwners can take

As Brits are warned of a potential surge in burglaries when lockdown restrictions end, here are some steps to secure homes from break-ins.

  1. Secure the perimeter of your home. Garden tools should not be kept outside and ladders should remain out of sight. Sheds, garages and outbuildings should always be locked away. 
  2. Burglar alarms with flashing lights and sounders should be installed at the front and back of your home.Security lights raised at least 2m from the ground will help ward off any burglars.
  3. Upgrade your locks on windows and doors and keep all windows closed at night. Ground floor windows should be fitted with sturdy, reliable locks and windows linked to any alarm system.
  4. Leave lights on and keep music playing when you are out of your home to make it seem like someone is in.
  5. Ask a neighbour to keep an eye on your house and take in any milk or newspaper deliveries while you are away on holiday,.

Precautions Brits can take to protect their homes include securing the perimeter of their properties, Crimestoppers have said.

Garden tools shouldn't be kept outside and ladders should remain out of sight.

Sheds, garages and outbuildings should always be locked. 

A fence at least 2m high could be raised in the garden, and a spiky bush or shrub planted. 

Side and back gates should be secure before people leave their homes. 

Burglar alarms with flashing lights and sounders should be installed at the front and back of a home. 

Security lights raised at least 2m from the ground will help ward off any burglars.

Locks should be upgraded on windows and doors and all windows kept closed at night.

Switching lights on and leaving music playing when you are out will make it seem like someone is at home.

Ask a neighbour to keep an eye on your house while you are away on holiday.

Be wary of distraction burglaries where more than one person calls at your door.

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