Top tips to prevent burglars ruining your Christmas

As we wind down for the festive break, that's a sign for the nation's burglars to step up their activities.

And Brits, the sticklers for tradition that we are, make things even easier for our unwelcome house guests, by badly hiding expensive presents in our homes, or conveniently stacking them under the tree.

That’s why most contents insurance policies provide ‘seasonal uplift’ throughout the festive season. This provides an additional 10 or 20 per cent of cover above the original ‘sum insured’ on the policy so, if you do fall victim to a burglar, you’ll be able to claim back your loss.

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But clearly, thwarting the burglars in the first place should be the priority. According to Kevin Pratt, consumer affairs expert at MoneySuperMarket, “Prevention is always better than cure and thankfully, most of the things you can do to protect your property just take a bit of care and common sense.

“For instance, lock up behind you, even if you’re only popping next door for a mince pie. Be careful when using social media when you’re out celebrating, in case you advertise the fact your home is empty.”

It’s also worth checking your contents insurance, especially if you’re lucky enough to receive a really expensive item for Christmas. The ‘single item limit’ is, according to Kevin, “the most the policy will pay out for the loss of any single item unless that item is listed separately.

“So, if you are given jewellery or electronic equipment valued above the limit, you need to contact your insurer so you can add it to your policy.”

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Here are MoneySuperMarket’s tips for protecting your home and presents this festive season:

• Make sure gifts and valuable possessions are out of sight and away from windows, and don’t leave keys where they could be ‘fished’ through the letterbox.

• Lock doors, close windows and set your burglar alarm, if you have one, every time you go out, day or night.

• If you have outside Christmas lights and you’re feeding the cable through a window, make sure it can’t be prised open. Use battery or solar-powered lights if possible.

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• If you’re out of the house for an evening or you’re going away for a few days, beware advertising your absence on social media. Burglars use sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to determine when homes might be empty.

• If you’re going away for an extended period, check your contents and your buildings insurance. If your property is empty for more than 30 days at a stretch, your cover may be invalidated, so you’d need an additional policy.