The summer months represent a huge opportunity for burglars and thieves to ply their wicked trade, as many homes are left empty for several weeks at a time. As people head off for their well-earned summer breaks, criminals are often ready and waiting to pounce.

Few crimes in society cause more distress, fear and anxiety than those involving break-ins, so it’s important to take some relatively simple precautions before you pack your holiday suitcases this summer.

Create a lived-in look

Criminals go to extraordinary lengths to ensure that homes are empty before they break in. They will often monitor entire neighbourhoods over an extended period of time – looking for tell-tale signs that the owner is away. There are also opportunistic thieves who can spot those same signs whilst passing by.

You can fool wrongdoers by asking your neighbours to keep a watch over your property, as well as getting them to tend to your garden or windows regularly. The majority of thieves want to be in and out without detection, so even the appearance of someone being at home may be enough to deter a burglary.

Remove makeshift climbing frames

Criminals are determined and highly resourceful, and they will go to incredible lengths to gain access to your home. The more agile criminals will use garden furniture, trees, vines and wall shrubs to reach open windows in the summer, so remove anything from outside your home that could aid a burglar’s attempts at a break-in.

Leave some lights on

Leaving lights on in the main areas of a house can deter thieves. However, the more astute criminals will notice when the same lights remain switched on for several days. This could deliver a clear message to criminals that there is no one home, so wherever possible, lights should be linked to timers – so they can be switched on and off periodically. It is also a good idea to partially close downstairs blinds and curtains, as anything that can restrict the view into your home will create uncertainty amongst criminals.

Restrict access to your garden

If criminals can get to your back door with ease, they are more likely to attempt a break-in. It is always a good idea to erect tall fencing around the rear of your property, as well as lockable gates, security lights and cameras. Most burglaries are attempted at the rear of a property – away from prying eyes. So making life as difficult as possible for criminals should at least go some way to protecting your home.

Lock your doors!

Whilst this may sound obvious, the majority of burglaries in the UK occur because doors or windows have been left unlocked. Installing deadbolt locks that can only be opened with a key will often be enough to deter burglars from even attempting a break-in. However, avoid the temptation of leaving a spare for family and neighbours under the doormat or behind a plant pot – these are often the first places criminals will look. If you must leave a key, it is possible to fit a key safe to a wall of your home, which can only be opened by inputting a numerical code.

Don’t get too comfortable if you’re staying at home during the summer

The warmer, drier weather of summer can persuade many of us to leave patio doors, conservatories and windows open in order to ventilate our houses. However, it is vital that you remain vigilant when doing this, as it could be an open invitation to opportunistic thieves. If you must open doors and windows, don’t leave them completely unattended, and remember to close them afterwards. Even if you are sitting in the garden, criminals may take a chance if they have unrestricted access to your property.

Invest in a remote monitoring system

Although relatively expensive, the latest surveillance systems can be accessed anywhere in the world via a dedicated mobile or tablet app. You will be able to visually check the rooms of your home whilst on holiday, as well as notifying the authorities of a break-in, moving camera positions and recalling recorded footage. While such a system costs several thousand pounds to install, it can pay for itself over a lifetime, thanks to reduced insurance premiums, the chance of identifying thieves and the decreased risk of burglary.

Whether you are planning a trip away this summer or you’re staying at home, taking some relatively simple precautions could protect your property and its contents from theft.