Christmas safety, unwrapped

HARBOROUGH District Neighbourhood Watch has put together some useful tips to help Mail readers enjoy a crime-free festive season.

1 Make sure gifts and valuables, wrapped and unwrapped, are out of view and not visible from any windows. This applies in the car as well as in the home.

2 Mark any expensive gifts you receive for Christmas with a UV pen or property marking service. This will make it harder for burglars to sell the items and allow police to return them to you. Call your local policing team on 101 for advice about property marking products. You can register your property with which is endorsed by a number of police forces.

3 Photograph valuable property and log any serial numbers. Don’t store the information on a laptop, as that might be stolen too – keep it on a memory stick in a safe place.

4 Don’t put gift packaging out for recycling or leave it sticking out of your bin – thieves will notice boxes for branded products like laptops, TVs or accessories that could indicate an expensive piece of kit somewhere in the house. The safest thing to do is to break down any cardboard boxes or fold them inside out so that you cannot see the branding. You can then store them out of sight inside your home until you can dispose of them at a local recycling site.

5 Lock all doors and windows, leave a light on and draw the curtains when you go out at night. Keep your doors and windows locked from the inside even when you are inside your home.

Visible burglar alarms, exterior security lighting, timer lighting switches and leaving the radio on help to deter thieves and give the impression that somebody is at home.

6 Bolt and padlock garden gates and make sure you don’t leave ladders out, or other things that burglars could easily use to climb on. Remember to lock your garden shed and store your tools inside; it stops burglars using your tools

to break into your house. Consider fitting extra padlocks to gates, sheds and garages. Don’t keep presents in the garage or shed.

7 If you’re going away, ask a trusted neighbour to pop in every now and then and turn the lights on and off, draw the curtains, collect the mail and generally make the house look occupied. Also, it goes without saying, make sure everything is properly locked up before you leave and the burglar alarm – if you have one – is set. Cancel your newspapers, magazines and milk deliveries.

8 Why not have a word with your neighbours and offer to keep an eye on their home, especially if they are going away? You don’t have to be a member of Neighbourhood Watch to be a good neighbour, and even if you don’t have much contact with your neighbours, Christmas could be the perfect time to break the ice and have a friendly chat.

9 Burglars wander around looking for chances. The best opportunity for the police to catch them in the act is for you to spot them before they break in. Wherever you live, keep your eyes open and if you see anything suspicious, call 999 immediately. You can also call 101 to contact your local policing team in a non-emergency situation.

If you are interested in finding out more about Harborough District Neighbourhood Watch , please call then on 101 extension 3871, or email

If you are interested in starting a scheme please get in touch with Marion Lewis using the details above.

There are also lots of useful resources on the Neighbourhood & Home Watch Network (England & Wales) website, so do take a look around.