Research from Neighbourhood watch sponsor the Co-op Insurance has revealed that more than 13 million households* in the UK – nearly half (48%) – are committing the most basic security faux pas, which could put their property and belongings at risk.

With peak holiday season in full swing and more than 65 million people expected to take trips abroad this year,** the figures reveal that over 500,000 households in the UK are sharing their holiday plans on social media, advertising their empty homes to thieves.

With this in mind, the Co-op Insurance is warning homeowners to take security precautions before they go away. Almost a fifth of people (18%) keep their sheds unlocked, 16% leave things out in the garden that can be used to break a window and 15% have left the house leaving the windows open. More than one in 10 homeowners (12%) leave their ladders in the garden, which can be used to gain access to your home.

As the age for leaving the family nest rises and they experience living alone for the first time, it’s not surprising that 25-34 year olds are the least security conscious (63%), followed by 18-24 year olds (62%) who are most likely university or college students living away from home, and the over 55’s are the most likely to secure their homes.

“As tempting as it is to check-in at the airport on your phone, or share pictures around the pool whilst on holiday, it lets followers know a little too much information about when you’ll be out of the country and when your property will be left empty. Burglary is an extremely upsetting experience for anyone who happens to find themselves in this situation, however by taking simple security measures they can easily be prevented. It is easy to be distracted when you’re busy getting ready to go away for the summer holidays, but taking just a few small steps can make a big difference, in keeping your home safe from a burglary.”

Caroline Hunter, Head of Home Insurance at The Co-op


“Most burglaries are opportunistic and many can be prevented by taking basic steps to protect your home. We strongly recommend making your home look occupied when you leave it for both short and long periods, and if you’re out in the garden and you cannot see the doors or windows of your property then they should be shut and locked.”

Jim Maddan OBE, Chair of Neighbourhood Watch

Top tips to securing property and to reduce the risk of theft:

  • Lock your doors and windows every time you leave the house, even when you’re just out in the garden, and remember to double-lock UPVC doors by lifting the handle and turning the key.
  • Ensure outbuildings, such as sheds and garages are kept locked at all times. Garden and side gates should also be locked and it is a good idea to check that fencing is also secure
  • Keep ladders and tools locked or stored away, don’t leave them outside where they could be used to break into your home
  • If you’re going away, make the house look as though it’s still lived in. If you have milk or newspapers, remember to cancel them before you leave. Ask a neighbour or someone you know to put the bins out/bring them in, and to collect the post to make the property appear occupied
  • Install a visual burglar alarm and be sure to use it, setting it whenever you leave the house
  • Install good security lightning to the exterior of your property, this will help act as a deterrent for thieves
  • Bring any valuable items that may be lying around the garden, inside or locked up.
  • Be sure to keep any valuable items, such as laptops, iPads etc. away from view in the house and not near a ground floor window
  • Hide any car keys out of sight and away from letterboxes or cat flaps, as these can be easily reached with a device to hook the keys on
  • Consider joining or forming a Neighbourhood watch scheme.

*One Poll questioned 2,000 UK adults online on behalf of The Co-op Insurance in 2016.
**UK residents made 65.7 million visits abroad in 2015 – visits abroad last year.