Summertime means the pickings are easier for burglars as they profit from houses left empty when their owners go on holiday, gendarmes have warned.
Although burglaries were down in 2020 because of the Covid-19 lockdowns, 186,000 houses were still broken into, meaning three people out of every 1,000 were victims of this crime last year, compared to four per 100,000 the previous year.
Officers have come up with a nine-point plan to help homeowners protect their properties while they are away.
Leave the holiday snaps off Facebook, Instagram or Twitter until you get back. Nothing says you are not at home more than posting photos online of you not at home.
Forward your calls
Do not leave a voicemail message saying you are away from home. Instead get landline calls forwarded to your mobile.
Make sure all doors are locked and windows are shuttered properly before you leave - and check before you set off. It does not just make it more difficult for criminals, it also means your insurance is more likely to pay up in case your property is broken into.
Tell your neighbours
Police are good, trusted neighbours are better. Ask them to keep an eye on your home while you are away. They will be able to alert law enforcement if burglars try to break in.
Ask a neighbour to collect any mail. An overflowing mailbox is a strong clue that a home’s inhabitants are not there.
Invest in a timer that switches lights on and off at the appropriate time of day, to suggest that someone is in the house.
Hide your valuables in unusual places
Do not leave valuables such as jewellery or large sums of money home alone. Or, try to hide them in unusual places. Then, if your home is broken into, criminals will not have an easy payday.
If you keep a ladder in your garden, put it away, say officers. It could be used to gain access to balconies. Also, do not put your keys in a flowerpot, or under the doormat.
Sign up for a police check
Every summer, police launch Opération Tranquillité Vacances to give homeowners peace of mind while they are on holiday. Anyone who fills in a form and takes it to their nearest police or gendarmerie station 48 hours before they travel can enjoy their holiday knowing officers will regularly pass by their property and check everything is in order. It is a free service.