Don't make it easy for Christmas criminals

It's only a week until Christmas, which means that the presents are starting to pile up... making a tempting target for festive thieves.

Easy seasonal pickings for criminals include Christmas gifts left in unattended vehicles, and presents under the Christmas tree and visible from the outside.

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), last December insurers dealt with the equivalent of 435 domestic burglary claims every day, paying £30m to customers who were the victims of Christmas crime. That works out at nearly £2,250 for every domestic burglary.

So what's covered, and when?

The good news is that your contents insurance policy covers you for theft all year round, including Christmas presents. What's more, on some policies the cover is automatically increased at this time of year to cover the value of Christmas presents in your home in the run up to, and immediately after, Christmas Day.

However, make sure you check your policy to see if you have this extra cover, and remember that -- even if you do -- it finishes in January.

When you're out and about, your car insurance should cover items left inside your vehicle. Personal belongings cover is generally a standard feature, protecting items left in the car that may be affected by theft, fire or an accident. This cover can range from around £100 up to £500, so check your policy to find out how much you're insured for.

And if you're lucky enough to receive any valuable gifts and gadgets, don't forget to let your home contents insurer know. This is particularly important if the gifts will cost more to replace than the 'single item limit' shown on your schedule.

To help beat Christmas criminals, the ABI recommends avoiding leaving presents in full view in unattended vehicles. If you can't take them with you, put them in a locked boot.

When putting presents under the Christmas tree, make sure they are not easily visible from outside the house.

Think twice about what you post on social media: avoid details of expensive presents like jewellery, and don't advertise if you are going away and leaving your home unoccupied.

If you are going away over the period, make sure your home is left secure. And even if you're only visiting locally, always lock your front door.

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