Clocks going back, Bonfire Night, and Mischief Night have been revealed to be behind a yearly spike seen in malicious damage claims according to Aviva who are advising residents to take heed as the Halloween season and longer nights create the perfect mix for mayhem.
An analysis of home claims data from the last five years, shows that malicious damage claims increased by 21% during the months of October and November, compared to the monthly average. Home theft claims were also found to rise by 23% during the same months, with thieves and mischief-makers taking advantage of the cover of darkness.
Bonfire Night also falls during this period, meaning fireworks are usually in plentiful supply, adding to the risk of people causing damage. Previous Aviva research has discovered fire claims can spike around November 5th.
There is also the added peril of “Mischief Night” around this time, which is celebrated on either 30 October or 4 November, depending on where people live. This can give rise to jokes, pranks and sometimes vandalism.
Aviva reveals malicious damage claims around Halloween including broken doors, smashed windows and damage caused by people throwing fireworks. Many customers refer to trick-or-treaters when reporting their claims.
Aviva has the following advice for residents to protect their homes and possessions at this time of year:
1. Lock doors and windows. A huge number of thefts are opportunistic, so residents can reduce the risk by simply locking up. The latest ONS Crime Survey shows nearly a quarter (24%) of domestic burglaries with entry occurred when a door was unlocked, while 8% happened when a window was either open or could be pushed open.
2. Make it clear if you’re not celebrating Halloween. Many trick-or-treaters will only visit homes which have pumpkins or decorations outside. But for the avoidance of any doubt, you could use a polite ‘no trick or treaters’ poster which shows you’re not taking part. Many designs are available online to be downloaded and printed and may help to deter unwanted visitors.
3. Shut blinds and curtains. Burglars are more likely to target a home if they know it contains valuables. Consider shutting curtains and blinds to keep your possessions hidden from prying eyes - something less than half of residents (46%) do before going out or away. If you’ve made new purchases, don’t advertise the fact by leaving packaging from desirable items outside.
4. Avoid leaving wheelie bins out – or anything else that vandals could set on fire or use to make mischief. Sometimes an incident can occur simply because the temptation was in someone’s way – so avoid giving trouble-makers ideas.
5. Be mindful of where you keep wallets, jewellery and other valuables. The most commonly stolen items include purse/wallet/money/cards (40%), followed by jewellery (27%), computer/computer equipment (23%), electrical goods/cameras (19%) and watches (15%). So don’t leave items lying around and find a good hiding place when they’re not in use.
6. Keep sheds and garages locked. Only around half of householders make sure their sheds and garages are locked, regardless of whether they are at home or away, suggesting the remaining residents could be allowing easy access for burglars. Outbuildings often contain tools which criminals can use to gain entry to your home, so there’s an extra reason to lock up.
7. Keep your bicycle secure. According to official statistics, nearly two-thirds (63%) of bike thefts happen around homes. Some insurance policies may specify that bicycles are only covered if they’re locked away or secured to a fixed point when not in use, so make sure your cover meets your needs.
8. Be a good friend and neighbour – and ask them to do the same for you. If you’re going out or away for a break, ask a trusted neighbour, friend or family member to keep an eye on your property. Make sure you leave a key with a trusted person, rather than under a mat or plant pot where anyone could find it (unlike the 9%(5) of UK residents who admit to doing this!).
9. Keep your gates bolted or locked. Even if your door is locked, people can steal items or cause mayhem in your garden before they even get to your house. So if you have a gate, by keeping it locked or bolted, you could help to avoid Halloween horrors.
10. Don’t leave keys and valuables near the front or back door. Never leave your keys (or anything valuable) near doors as thieves can use coat hangers and fishing rods to hook them. One in 7 (14%)(6) householders admit leaving their keys and 1 in 10 (9%) say they have left money or other valuables near the front or back door.
Waseem Malik, Aviva Chief Claims Officer, says: “Halloween provides something of a perfect storm for would-be troublemakers – which could mean an increase in certain types of claim. As well as the trick-or-treat antics of October 31st, the clocks go back on the last Saturday of the month. This means night will fall an hour earlier around Halloween, which creates an opportunity for people to go about their business under the cover of darkness.
"Thankfully most of these claims are relatively low in value and easy to put right, but they can be distressing for customers, and it goes without saying that claims involving fire can be devastating. We’d urge residents and business owners to be on their guard at this time of year and report any significant acts of vandalism to the police, as well as their insurance provider."