ESSEX Police and Nextdoor, a neighbourhood app, have partnered to release tips on how to keep your home safe over Christmas.

Tips have been given to prevent burglaries at this time of year, and there is general advice on how to look out for neighbours.

With Christmas fast approaching and trips to see family and friends getting underway over the festive period, now is the perfect time to review home security.

1. Ensure your home security is up to scratch

Before heading off to see family and friends this holiday season, leaving your house unoccupied for a few days, be sure to check all your locks work, including those on windows and even your shed. If your house is going to be vacant for a while, it may be worth investing in a smart-plug or smart-lighting system which can turn lights on and off during the day, giving the impression to any potential burglar that someone is home.

2. Cancel any regular deliveries

A big giveaway someone isn’t at home is a pile up of daily newspapers or milk bottles. Be sure to pause any regular deliveries, and consider nominating a friendly neighbour to receive any packages for the period you’re not at home - you wouldn’t want any of your Christmas gifts disappearing off your doorstep before you even had a chance to wrap them.

3. Notify a trusted neighbour

Being a part of your local community can help not only improve your home security but can have a big impact on how safe you feel in your neighbourhood. Be sure to share your Christmas plans with a trusted neighbour who can keep an eye everything while you’re away. It’s also worth using platforms such as Neighbourhood Watch and Nextdoor so you can report any suspicious activity and have your neighbours keep an eye open. Nextdoor’s Public Services Platform allows local authorities, the police and fire services to engage and communicate directly with residents, meaning you receive crime and safety updates, any urgent alerts and critical news and advice about your area, directly to your phone or computer.

4. Hide Christmas gifts, packages and valuables

Whilst you may already be hiding Christmas gifts from the children, it’s worth being vigilant in ensuring nothing of value is directly on show through your windows. This should help make your house look less ‘inviting’ to any would-be burglars.

5. Don’t broadcast your holiday plans

Whilst letting a trusted neighbour know you’ll be away is a great safety step, it’s important not to advertise the fact your house will be empty for a prolonged period of time on social media. You don’t want any uninvited ‘guests’ using it as an opportunity.

6. Keep an eye out for vulnerable neighbours

Whilst many of us will be spending the holidays with friends and family, please do keep an eye on any vulnerable or elderly neighbours who may not have plans this Christmas. Whether you pop by with a mince pie, or just check-in to make sure they have what they need for the holiday season, a little extra help to make sure they’re safe and secure for the Christmas period goes a long way.