18 August 2015

  • A third of homeowners have gone out leaving windows open (32%)
  • 13% of people have left a door open
  • One in five people (22%) don’t use their burglar alarm

Millions of homeowners are committing the most basic security faux pas which could put their property and belongings at risk during the peak holiday months according to new research from The Co-operative Insurance.*

With more than 14 million people going on holiday abroad between the months of July-September,** the figures reveal that almost a third of Brits have gone out of the house leaving the windows open (32%), while around one in eight have left the front or back door open (13%).

As domestic burglary accounts for 15% of all property-related crime with 789,000 incidents each year*** The Co-operative Insurance is warning homeowners to take security precautions before they go away.   More than one in five people (21%) have also left keys in view of windows and doors and 22% don’t put the burglar alarm on when leaving the house. More than one in 10 homeowners (12%) have also left the garage or shed unlocked.

More than one in seven people (15%) have left keys in a hiding place outside and 9% have posted their whereabouts on social media when they are not at home.

What’s more, many may not have the right levels of cover in place if they need to make a claim, as almost a quarter (22%) have guessed the value of their property’s contents when taking out insurance, meaning they might not have the right levels of cover in place.

Caroline Hunter, Head of Home Insurance at The Co-operative, says:

“Burglary is not a nice experience for anyone who finds themselves in this situation, yet many security risks can be easily prevented.  It is easy to be distracted when you’re busy getting ready to go away for the summer holidays but it is worth taking time to make some quick security checks for your own peace of mind. 

“Being vigilant and paying attention to small details can not only help to prevent a burglary in the first place, but this can also speed up the claims process should you need to make a one.”

Top security risks people take:

1 Leaving windows open
2 Not using a burglar alarm
3 Leaving keys in view of windows or doors
4 Window keys left in the locks
5 Leaving a BBQ unsecured in the garden
6 Keys left in an outside hiding place
7 Leaving the front/back door open
8 Leaving the garage or shed unlocked


Top tips to securing property and to reduce the risk of theft.  

  • Don’t leave keys in the window locks or where they can be seen from the outside. It means they can be located more easily by people attempting to break in to the property.
  • Keep track of your keys. Some insurers may want to see evidence of forced entry before deciding whether or not to pay out on a claim but most would expect to see that individuals have taken reasonable precautions when it comes to home security
  • If you lose your key or it’s stolen and you have good reason to believe that it could be traced back to your home address (for example, handbag stolen and with your address in the bag as well as the keys), then you should have your locks replaced
  • If you have smaller, high value items that you usually leave outdoors or in a shed, think about bringing them indoors
  • Make sure outbuildings including sheds are locked. Back gates should also be locked and it is a good idea to check that fencing is also secure 
  • Securing outside ladders will ensure they can’t be used as a tool to help break into your house
  • If you have a burglar alarm then use it – it’s an extra level of security so why wouldn’t you?
  • Report a theft to the police as soon as possible and obtain a crime reference number. This makes it easier for your insurer to deal with a claim and increases the chances of the police making a recovery / arrest 
  • Be sensible about the information you post online and be especially cautious if you plan to go away.  Update your privacy and security settings on a regular basis. 
  • If you are holidaying in the UK, make sure your belongings are kept out of sight if you have to leave them in a car unattended. They should be locked in the glove box or in the boot.


It is also a good idea to take the following steps which could make life easier should the worst happen:

  • Take photographs or digital images of valuable and valued items and keep their receipts or valuations
  • Recording serial numbers may help the police recover items following a theft
  • Consider registering an inventory of your valued belongings on https://www.immobilise.com/ - this is supported by most UK Police forces


Notes to editors

*One Poll questioned 2,000 UK adults online on behalf of The Co-operative Insurance in 2015. 
**14,498,000 visits abroad (total world holidays July-Sept 2014) table 5.02
Travel trends section 5 – UK residents visits abroad 2014.


About the Co-operative Insurance

With more than 1.18m customers, The Co-operative Insurance, part of The Co-operative Group, is committed to ‘Doing the Right thing’ and always strives to treat customers and members fairly.
The Co-operative Group is the UK’s largest co-operative business, whose purpose is “Championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities.” Owned by more than 5 million members, The Co-operative Group operates a total of 4,500 outlets, with around 87,000 employees and has an annual turnover of £11 billion with interests across food, funerals, insurance and legal services.

The Group operates across two core divisions of Retail and Consumer Services. The Consumer Services Division includes Funeralcare, the UK’s number one funeral services provider, Co-operative Insurance, a major UK general insurer and CLS, The Group’s legal services operation.


For further information contact:

Alex Wilson
Press & Media Relations Manager
The Co-operative Group
07540 641368