FAMILY MATTERS: Sun, sea and stealing in holiday season

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EMMA Gregory has never forgotten the time her mother was broken into as a child, even though it was 30 years ago.

But she was lucky, the burglars tripped over something in the hall and made a sharp exit.

But while they left the house, they also left an imprint on Emma’s mind which means she has never felt truly secure ever since.

“We were lucky, I remember seeing my door handle go and I thought it might have been my brother because he was always coming into the room to get his cricket set but I’d left it outside that night so that my mum would trip over and tell him off.”

It wasn’t her mother that tripped over the cricket set, it was the burglars.

“That must have frightened them so they left but I’ll never forget seeing all our belongings downstairs lined up - they even took the lids from the wedding crockery dishes and put them all on the floor, in case there was any money in any of the dishes.”

Many people report feeling violated and invaded after a break-in. That was certainly the case with Emma.

But such was the strength of Emma’s belief that people should avoid - at all costs - anything that encourages burglary, that she set up her own company Total Property Solutions which aims to make houses more secure.

“Homes without security measures are five times more likely to be burgled than a home that’s secure. I am always amazed at how complacent people are - lots of people leave doors and windows open or a wheelie bin nearby, all it takes is to stand on a wheelie bin and access an upstairs window. A wheelie bin can be used as a ladder.”

And now the holiday season is approaching, the number of domestic burglaries is likely to shoot up again, as it more and more of us migrate to warmer climbs.

The Actuarial Post - the trade publication for the actuaries who calculate the cost of such things for insurance companies - estimates that the number of burglaries to homes in the UK rises by 10 per cent in July and August.

But what’s more alarming is our lack of security. Evidence shows that the actual damage to the property itself over this period is minimal, suggesting that it is easy to break in to these homes.

In an article for the Actuarial Post Jonathan Cracknell, underwriter at Aviva said: “Most homeowners are pretty savvy when it comes to securing their main home while they are away on holiday, but our data shows that thieves are still sneaking in through open windows and unsecured doors, so even if you are just going out for a day trip, don’t forget to have a quick look around and check you have shut and locked everything you should. It could make the difference from your home being a quick target or being left alone.”

Emma explains it further. “Things like leaving your milk out and letting the post build up are give-aways that the house is empty. People need to think about using timers and making it less obvious they are away,” she says.”

Emma also says that now some burglars are even learning how to tear a lock off a door panel.

“The only genuinely secure lock is a door cylinder lock that is snap secure without the need for additional security devices.”

Emma and her team help console people and advise them on security after a break-in.

“It’s tough because some burglars leave such a state of devastation and they often take things that are of no monetary value but very special, like a weddings photograph that happens to be in a silver frame.

“It feels like you’ve been invaded. People can be distraught so you have to be gentle with them.”