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How to avoid crimes at Christmas

An edited photograph of a burglar, a plug timer and Christmas presents

Christmas is all about mince pies, novelty jumpers and glad tidings. It’s roaring fires, spending time with family and gorging ourselves on chocolates that come in fiddly little wrappers. It’s the focal point of the end of the year and the saving grace of those cold winter months. It’s also, somewhat surprisingly, a time for crime.

Crimes such as robbery and theft peak during Christmastime, with burglaries seeing spikes of around 20%. Christmas is a time for giving, but - it appears – also a time for taking without consent.

What can you do to guard yourself and your family against this uptick in crime? Well, quite a few things, actually. Follow our handy little guide to try and stay one step ahead of the criminals.

Keeping safe online during the festive period

You might not realise it, but cybercrime is seasonal, partly because of a lapse in organisational security. Online fraudsters take advantage of Christmas shutdowns at businesses and commit merry hacking hell. So, while such hacks are out of your control, there’s still plenty you can do to keep your own accounts and money where it should be.

Double check websites

Online shopping increases approximately 25% in December so you must ensure that any website that wants your credit or debit card information is secure. The best way to do this is to make sure you only shop with reputable online retailers and don’t fall for scams involving impersonation sites. If you’re concerned about a website you’re on, kill the tab and find the site with a search engine instead.

Watch out for courier cons

It’s a busy season for couriers. Most folks have plenty delivered to their front door over Christmas. Of course, online fraudsters have plenty of courier-based tricks and swindles up their sleeves that often involve fake tracking numbers or dodgy vouchers or coupons. So be suspicious of emails asking you to download attachments or follow links in order to access vouchers and refunds or track parcels you’re not expecting. It’s likely they’re phishing scams designed to steal your details via a virus.

Take action if you fear you’ve been targeted

Worried about a dodgy-looking link you’ve clicked on? Concerned you might be the victim of online fraud? If you disconnect the device from your Wi-Fi, scammers won’t be able to gain remote access to it. Alternatively, try immediately installing some sort of anti-malware software and changing all your online logins - especially to any shopping sites you may be signed up with.

Checks and balances

During any time of extra online spending, it’s worth keeping a close eye on your bank balance and any credit card statements. Check each transaction and report anything suspicious to your bank.

Protect against burglary at Christmas

Offline, the dangers don’t abate. As houses get full of expensive items and people head out of town to visit friends and family, break-ins increase. There are plenty of precautions you can take to dissuade thieves from targeting your house, though.

Light up your house, not just with festive lights

At this time of year, plenty of us will be festooning the insides and outsides of our house with sparkling fairy lights and flashing neon Santas. If you want to make your property a very unappealing prospect to burgle, go further and have bright outside sensor lights fitted. Burglars like the cover of darkness, not the spotlight.

Don’t advertise any trips away

If you’re planning to visit people in the lead-up to or over the festive period, be mindful about saying that you’ll be doing so on social media. Promoting the fact that your house will be empty isn’t a great idea.

Be careful about presents under your tree

It could pay to keep your gifts - especially your expensive ones - separate and spread out. Piling them all together for the whole of December is lighting a beacon for any potential burglars. If you plan to keep some gifts in a shed, garage or other outbuilding, be sure to lock it up securely.

The key is to think smart about keys

Criminals may be immoral, but they’re not daft. Never leave keys under a pot plant or gnome by the front door for emergencies or neighbours. Criminals tend to check the obvious places for spare keys so don’t make it easy for them.

Pretend someone’s in when they’re not

Burglars watch for patterns and tend to invade homes when they know they’re empty. If you go out, leave some lights on. Better yet, hook your lights up to timers on unpredictable schedules when you go out.

Is your calendar visible?

This may seem strange, but it happens. Some burglars have confessed to police that they’ve planned burglaries around people’s schedules. How do they know them? Their kitchen calendars were visible through the window. They’ve seen ‘WEEKEND AWAY’ scribbled up in big red letters and started planning their break-in.

Guarding against other crimes at Christmas

Unfortunately, it’s not just online fraud and house break-ins that spike during the festive season. It’s also worth being aware of - and protecting against - these:


According to a recent survey, an astounding 4.5 million drivers in the UK - that’s one in every 25 people - have broken the law by operating a vehicle while intoxicated following a Christmas party. Of course, there’s precious little you can do about the danger of other drivers consuming alcohol before getting behind the wheel. But there’s plenty you can do about your own sobriety. Never drink and drive, regardless of the time of your year.


Christmas markets attract throngs of people, most of whom will be wearing big coats with pockets stuffed full of valuable items. This is a perfect mark for pickpockets. Remember to keep cash, cards and phones nice and safe somewhere wandering hands would struggle to reach. You could even take the approach that West Midlands Police have this year. They’ve been handing out jingle bells to Christmas shoppers at the Christmas market in Coventry. Popped into pockets, they’re designed to deter thieves.


Christmas parties can make town and city centres lively places. Some revellers have a tendency to overdo the eggnog and the pints of mulled wine, though. ‘Silly Season’ sees an increase in public order offences and affray. By all means, enjoy your work Christmas do or drinks with friends out and about. But take it easy and keep an eye out for trouble. No one wants a black eye as an early Christmas present.