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Halloween: A night of ghouls and vandalism

Halloween can present burglars with the perfect opportunity for a break-in, but you can reduce the risks by taking a few simple precautions.
Halloween: A night of ghouls and vandalism

Halloween is a night supposedly filled with fun, with fancy dress parties and sweet treats at the forefront of everyone’s mind. However, there are a few ghouls prowling the streets with something more sinister than trick-or-treating planned.

According to home insurance data from Aviva, October 31st is the worst night of the year for malicious damage claims. The figures have been collected over the last decade and reveal that there has been a 150 per cent rise in the number of claims being made for the home, while car damage and thefts have risen by 50 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.

Further research from the insurance firm revealed that between October 30th and November 5th 2013, there was a 26 per cent hike in the number of burglaries reported compared to the weekly average for the rest of the year.

Once the statistics are broken down by region, it is clear to see that Strathclyde and Northamptonshire experienced the most incidents on October 31st 2013, with police reports rising by 57 per cent and 53 per cent respectively.

Rob Townend, property claims director at Aviva says: “Unfortunately, the combination of darker nights and a mischievous occasion like Halloween or a noisy one like Bonfire Night present too good an opportunity for some criminals to resist. These are real hotspots in the crime calendar when homes and cars can be more at risk than any other time in the year.”

Why is there an increase?

Halloween provides the perfect cover for crime. It gets darker quicker and the noise of party revellers and fireworks masks any loud sounds, such as the clangour of a car alarm or the crash of a window being smashed.

These elements combine to make homes and vehicles vulnerable to those wanting to cause mischief, and more serious crimes.  

Mr Townend added: "Shorter days present more opportunities for criminals to work under cover of darkness.”

Although theft and malicious damage are covered as standard by your home insurance if your property is targeted by those prowling in the night, it is best to take a few steps to reduce the risk of this happening.

Reducing the risks

Although it may seem obvious, ensuring doors and windows are secure is a simple way to increase the security and deter would-be thieves.

Figures from the Metropolitan Police reveal that more than 5,000 people experienced break-ins because they hadn’t locked their front door. Many burglars are opportunistic and will chance their luck by trying the door, which is unlikely to arouse suspicion from neighbours and passers-by.

Leaving a spare key anywhere near the front door will also leave a house vulnerable to burglars as seasoned thieves will be aware of all the places to look for a key, including under doormats, plant pots and bins, as well as on top of door and window frames.

Keys can be vulnerable inside a house as well if they are kept too close to the letterbox, as hoodlums can push a wire or hook through the letterbox of a door to fish out any keys in sight.

If a house appears to be empty it can also attract unwanted attention from people looking to loot empty homes. Draw the curtains, turn on some lights and leave the television or radio playing when you leave for an evening, making it seem that the house is occupied.

For added security, homeowners can install burglar alarms and CCTV cameras to deter any would-be thieves from even considering breaking in.

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