An insurance expert is warning homeowners about the dangers of complacency after police figures revealed a drop in household burglaries in the South West during lockdown.
Toby Heathcoat Amory, of insurance broker Lycetts, is urging homeowners to step up their home security before their return to the office and going on holiday, as he fears the government’s stay at home order caused a lapse in vigilance.
According to new figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), household burglaries in England and Wales fell by almost one quarter (22 per cent) during lockdown, which the ONS attributed to the national lockdown restrictions, as people spent more time in their homes.
In the South West, 11,828 residential burglaries were reported to police in the year ending December 2020, which represented a 21 per cent drop on last year. Of these burglaries, 5,142 took place in Avon and Somerset, a 17 per cent drop, 1,866 were reported in Gloucestershire (24 per cent fall), 1,824 in Dorset (14 per cent fall), 1,757 in Devon and Cornwall (26 per cent fall) and 1,239 in Wiltshire (35 per cent fall).
Toby said that the lifting of restrictions and end to the home working directive will see people spending more time out of their homes and urged homeowners to ensure that their security systems are up-to-date and fit-for-purpose.
“With homes occupied day and night during the pandemic, burglaries were not as appealing to criminals, as the chances of being caught increased manifold,” said Toby.
“It is understandable that the rate of household burglaries dropped during lockdown – and though this is positive news, there is a very real danger that homeowners have become lax about home security as a result.
“This plays into the hands of would-be burglars and creates bountiful opportunities post-lockdown.
“As we return to a sense of normality, and homes are empty for longer periods of time – with homeowners returning to the office, socialising, and holidaying – homes could once again become prime targets and a rise in burglaries could follow.
“It is vital homeowners do not rest on their laurels and have measures in place for emerging from this crisis – and from our homes. This includes ensuring that home security systems, from alarms and security lighting to cameras and smart locks, are in good working order and any software and cyber security updates have been made.”
As well as checking security systems, Toby said that homeowners should review their home insurance policies to ensure that the level of cover is correct.
High value items that have been purchased in the pandemic may have impacted the level of cover needed and leave homeowners exposed to being underinsured.
“Working from home means that many of us acquired additional technology, such as computers and laptops,” added Toby.
“Home improvement projects have also soared in the pandemic and with extra space comes additional furniture, home entertainment tech, and other home goods. Ensure to check that your policy offers sufficient cover, particularly if you have made high value purchases or carried out improvements to your home during lockdown.
“Failure to do so could put you at risk of a significant shortfall should you need to make a claim in the event of a loss.”