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Christmas Time Mistletoe and Crime

Properties full of unwrapped Christmas presents are prime targets for burglars, according to the findings of a study by the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA).

Image of the Titan window restrictor courtesy of The Jackloc Company Ltd

In a survey of its members, the MLA, a not-for-profit organisation established to promote skills and ethics in the industry, and the largest trade body in the UK representing the profession, found almost 60 per cent of locksmiths said they witness a spike in break-ins in the lead up to Christmas when properties are full of unwrapped presents.

Despite it being the season of goodwill, a third of members said they see an increase in burglaries during Twixmas – the period between Christmas and New Year – when homes are often empty for long periods at a time with the likelihood of ‘good pickings’ from families’ presents.

Typically, burglars take advantage of inadequate security measures such as badly installed or poor-quality locks. Many use an extremely common method known as lock-snapping to break into a property. Homes with euro cylinder locks – a type of lock found on almost all domestic houses that have UPVC doors, and a significant number of composite and aluminium doors – are targeted with ease. Lock-snapping requires zero skill, minimal tools or knowledge by the thief and they can gain entry quickly and quietly, often taking them as little as five to ten seconds.

Steffan George, managing director of the MLA, said: “Homeowners need to be vigilant all year round, but especially in the run up to Christmas and with people now able to form a “Christmas bubble”, homes may be left for longer than usual.

“Downing Street is also encouraging homeowners to keep windows open this winter to cut the risk of spreading coronavirus, especially if they have visitors. This can be done whilst minimising the compromise to the security of your home, for example, by using a restrictor lock which prevents a window from opening more than a fixed distance that has been tested and approved by an independent test and certification company, such as Sold Secure which is recognised by the Home Office, insurers and police.

“We’d urge homeowners to review their home security now, before they fall victim.  A change of locks needn’t be costly but the peace of mind you’ll get from knowing you’ve made it that bit more difficult for a burglar to gain access is priceless.”

The MLA’s website includes advice on how to choose a vetted, inspected and qualified locksmith and information to help ensure customers don’t get overcharged. If you want to change your locks or upgrade your home security call your local MLA Licensed Locksmith. Find their details by visiting