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There are so many things to think about when you’re moving house – all the packing, the logistics of the move, unpacking and starting fresh in a new place. It’s a lot to take in, and it’s easy to forget about the importance of keeping your possessions safe before, during and after the move.
According to a report from the Office of National Statistics, in 2015, there were 785,000 incidents of domestic burglary in England and Wales, highlighting the importance of keeping your valuables safe and protected. People who move house are twice as likely to be burgled in less than a year of living there.
This shouldn’t ruin the excitement of moving house, though! By following some of our simple tips to prevent the worst happening during the moving process, you’ll be settled in with all your worldly possessions and out of harm’s way in no time! Below we outline why you are more likely to be burgled during and just after a house move, and give you tips on how to minimize the risks after you have moved in.
When thieves spot the ‘sold’ sign outside your house, they often see it as the perfect opportunity – you will be distracted trying to pack and unpack, and people will be walking in and out of the house all day. Remember to do a head count of the removal team to make sure you know exactly who is meant to be there.
Just after the move, a lot of people leave boxes to be unpacked around the house near windows, in full view of anyone looking for an opportunity to take some valuables.
The likelihood of your new house being burgled can be dependent upon your geographical location – crime rates may be higher in certain areas, and there may be more opportunities for burglars to enter.
Before moving to your new home, you should look into crime rates to get an idea of what crime is like in your area. These sites won’t give you a totally accurate picture of the type and level of crime, however, they can give you a general idea of certain trends so you can compare the levels between neighbourhoods.
Your removal company will be responsible for transporting your most important worldly possessions, so you will want to make sure you are hiring a trusted firm. Comparemymove.com’s partners are all verified and offer free quotes on removals, saving you up to 70% on your removal costs.
Estate agents are useful sources of information, but you should go and visit the area yourself to see if you feel safe. Visit during the day, but also after dark. Walk around the area (with a friend or partner) and ask yourself if you feel safe. Are there any signs of antisocial behaviour? Is the local area well-maintained? Is the area well-lit? Are there bus stations or train stations nearby? Would you feel safe walking to and from them at night?
Keep an eye on your valuables – although you have hired a reputable removal company, you’re going to have people walking in and out of your house, leaving you distracted.
Burglars often use the ‘sold’ sign outside the house as an opportunity to grab anything they can when you are distracted or have left a box of items outside while you collect the rest. Make sure your items are taken straight from the house and placed in the removal van – if you can’t keep locking and unlocking the removal van as you move the boxes in and out, ask someone to stay inside the van or at least keep an eye on it at all times.
If you have any extremely valuable possessions such as jewellery, you will want to keep it on you during the move – some removal companies consider those non-allowable items, and don’t cover the loss or damage of expensive jewellery, so you will have to be responsible for it.
Once you arrive at your new house, again make sure boxes are taken straight from the removal van into your house, not left on the pavement or outside unattended at any point.
Try to hide that you have just moved into the house by putting curtains and blinds up as quickly as possible, to conceal packing boxes. Familiarise yourself with the area by exploring your new neighbourhood and introducing yourself to your neighbours. If you are on good terms with the neighbours, they will be willing to keep an eye on your house whenever you are away for long periods of time, and you can return the favour!
Changing the locks in your new home is extremely important – you never know how many people were given duplicate sets of keys by the previous owners. Keep in mind that you are more than twice as likely to be burgled within a year of moving house, so by changing the locks, you minimize the risk by controlling exactly who has access to your property and who you give your keys to.
Along with this, if the worst happens and your house is broken into and your possessions are damaged or stolen, your insurance claim could be void because some policies state that if you did not change locks when you moved house, you didn’t adequately secure the property.
So, changing the locks will give you peace of mind and keep you, your family and your home safe.
You should also fit in dead locks on doors and window locks if your new home doesn’t have any. If you are replacing or fitting new doors and windows, get ones certified to British Standard BS7950 (windows) or PAS 24-1 (doors), to ensure they are fit for purpose. Keep any keys to your locks out of sight, somewhere only you know where to find them.
Your new house may come with an alarm system, so make sure you get the manual from the sellers so you can change the existing password the previous owners used.
If an alarm system doesn’t come with the new house, you might want to consider having one installed, as houses with alarms have lower rates of burglary.
In general, when you’re out of the house try and make it look occupied – keep a radio on and hide any valuables like expensive laptops or jewellery. If you really want to upgrade your security system, check out some of our top security gadgets for your new house.
If you want to spot any security weaknesses, look at your home through the eyes of a burglar. Let’s say you forgot your keys and need to enter the house – how would you do it? If you can manage relatively easily, so can a burglar! Check for any hidden parts of the house where a burglar could break in without being seen or heard, such as at the back where there is a window with little lighting. It might be an idea to install some lighting to make it harder for them to go undetected.
All of these measures will greatly reduce the risks of being burgled, but in some cases, the worst can still happen.
No one knows exactly how they will react when the situation arises – if you’re in the house when someone breaks in, it could also depend on if you’re alone, or if there are multiple burglars. Try to have your mobile phone near you or in your bedroom, so you can call the police even if they cut the phone line. If you feel able to, you might want to make a noise to scare them off. Alternatively, you may choose to keep quiet and wait for them to leave. There are no right answers in difficult situations like this.
However, if you get home and notice signs of a break-in:
Contents Insurance covers damage to, or loss of, a person’s possessions while they are in the house. Again, if the worst happens make sure your home contents insurance covers your valuables.
So, when you’re in the process of moving house, follow our tips to keep your possessions safe and secure, before, during and after your move. Remember to hire a reputable removal company to transport your possessions to your new property – comparemymove.com’s partners offer free quotes on removals and can save you up to 70% on your removal costs.
Never set your packing boxes outside or leave them unattended, as it provides the perfect opportunity for thieves who have watched you moving out all day. When you get to your new home, familiarise yourself with the area and meet your neighbours. Implementing security measures like changing the locks, installing an alarm and getting contents insurance all minimize the risk and damage of a potential burglary, and will give you peace of mind.