By Emma Elsworthy

Leaving dirty dishes in the kitchen and posting social media updates hinting the house is occupied are amongst the most common home security hacks adopted by Brits.

Researchers also found other savvy holidaymakers allow neighbours to park on their driveway, and put the recycling out for them on bin day.

Other tactics include putting paperwork which has personal information on out of sight, and hiding smaller, easy-to-steal items such as jewellery.

It also emerged the more creative among us even go as far as to set timers which play dog-barking sounds at specific times in the empty house.

The revelations emerged following a detailed study of 2,000 homeowners by Yale.

A spokesperson for Yale, which commissioned the study via said: “When you’re away from your home enjoying your holiday, there’s nothing worse than worrying about whether it’s secure.

“Burglars tend to target homes that look vacant and appear to have a lack of home security in place, so a simple and easy way to protect your home is to use visual deterrents.

“These include installing a high-quality alarm or CCTV system, and making sure your locks are Kitemarked to a suitable standard to protect your home.

“Another big concern for holiday makers is the niggling feeling of whether you’ve locked your front door whilst you’re away.

“The introduction of smart door locks means that you can check this remotely using an app.

“There’s also the opportunity to send friends, family or neighbours a temporary pin code or mobile key, granting them short-term access to your property while you’re away so they can check everything is just as you left it.”

It also emerged a sensible 53 per cent leave lights on timers while one in 20 have music playing in the background.

Four in 10 offer loved ones the opportunity to stay in their house while they go away on holiday.

And a further one in 10 go as far as informing members of the local Neighbourhood Watch scheme of their intentions to leave the house for a few days.

Leaving a load of washing on the line in the back garden, installing heavy duty window locks and cutting the grass so it doesn’t look uncared for also featured highly on the list.

Other methods include leaving curtains open so it looks like someone is home, and hiding the kitchen calendar from view of a window so people can’t see when you’re away.
Friends, neighbours and family are all relied upon in the event of a holiday, as homeowners will ask others to pop in to take the post away from the door mat, and open and close blinds at regular intervals.

The study found 63 per cent of us actively try to dissuade burglars from entering their property when away, and nine in 10 make every effort possible to ensure their home is safe and secure.

Two thirds admitted they do worry about the safety of their property when they’re not at home.

And more than half run through checks such as the security of the window locks, making sure everything is unplugged, and ensuring relatives have the appropriate contact details.

Sadly, one in 10 of those polled have been burgled while away from home, with the most common stolen items including jewellery, the television and laptops.

Asking the milkman to have pretend conversations with you on the doorstep was the most bizarre method.

Researchers also found the average adult will leave their home alone for an average of 15 nights during the average year, and an additional three long days every month.

The spokeswoman for Yale added: “It’s also important to remember when you finally arrive at your holiday destination, to resist the urge to ‘check in’ on social media as this can be very risky.

“The modern-day burglar is very shrewd and will more than likely be stalking social media accounts to see who’s away, and checking in online could mean you’re their first target. We advise checking your security settings before posting or simply waiting until you get home to post those holiday snaps.”


1. Leave lights on a timer
2. Make sure keys are away from the front door and aren’t labelled
3. Ask the neighbours to put the bins out
4. Adding window locks to your windows
5. Getting someone to pop in the take the post away from the letterbox / door mat
6. Getting a friend/family member to pop round and open and close the blinds at various intervals
7. Leave a hall light on
8. Hide smaller, easy to carry, items such as jewellery and vinyl
9. Cut the grass before you leave so that it doesn’t look like a meadow by the time you get back
10. Hide any paperwork with name and address on
11. Close all the curtains downstairs so no-one can see in
12. Leaving all curtains open so it looks like someone is home
13. Have someone feed your cat / dog so they are a presence in the house
14. Getting a neighbour to park on the drive
15. Cancel all newspapers
16. Leave some dirty dishes on the side so it looks like the kitchen is being used
17. Even if you’re not travelling abroad, you take passports and driving license away with you
18. Inform the local Neighbourhood Watch Scheme that you’re going on holiday
19. Improve natural surveillance at the front of your property i.e. trim high hedges
20. Leave some music on in the background
21. Hide valuable items and swapping them for rubbish versions e.g. hiding the good TV and leaving something old in its place
22. Use the Royal Mail’s Keepsafe service (holds letters and parcels for up to 66 days while you are away and delivers them once you return)
23. Hide the family calendar so people from outside can’t see when you’re away
24. Getting a neighbour to switch the TV off and on
25. Give valuables to a neighbour rather than hiding in the back of the wardrobe
26. Post things on social media that would suggest you are at home
27. Leave a load of washing out on the line in the back garden
28. Get a dog barking sound to play on repeat by the door
29. Have automated curtains fitted that go up and down at night and the mornings
30. Ask the milkman to have pretend conversations with you


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