Halloween can be traced back as far as the ancient festival of Samhain when, on the 31st of October, the ghosts of the dead would revisit the mortal world. To ward off any evil spirits in their midst, large bonfires were lit in each village. Druids then walked from house-to-house with embers from the sacred bonfire and lit the hearth fires of the local villagers to ensure their protection. This also served to keep them warm throughout the remaining winter months.
Nowadays, Halloween is a far cry from this ancient ritual. Children wander the streets in costumes intended to scare or amuse, knocking on doors in the hope that they will be rewarded with a handful of sweets or a few coins. Yet despite the innocent nature of this tradition, Halloween night also conceals thieves, vandals and pranksters, giving the term ‘trick or treat’ increasingly malevolent overtones.
When pranks turn ugly
Aviva stated that malicious damage sky-rocketed to 160% on Halloween night in 2016 so we urge homeowners to take precautions for the future. Over the years, popular pranks have involved ‘egging’ where vandals throw raw eggs at a property; ‘teepeeing’, in which they adorn a home with swathes of toilet roll and spraying paint on homes and cars. Whilst these acts are frustrating, they are easily fixed, but the threat of theft, broken windows and fires aren’t as simply resolved.
Lurking in the shadows
Gone are the days of lighting your hearth with sacred bonfire embers. In the present day, you should consider motion sensitive lighting on the lead up to your home to stop any pesky pranksters hiding in dark corners. This will also make your home friendlier for innocent ghouls who are simply in it for the sweets.
If you’ve properly embraced the spirit of Halloween and lined your doorstep with pumpkins or stuck out a questionably carved offering which is fast approaching its sell-by-date, it’s worth using LED tea lights to light them up. If you use standard tea lights, these could pose a fire hazard both to young trick or treaters and your home.
If you’re not comfortable with answering your door, don’t feel compelled to. It can be tempting to turn your visible lights off but vandals may be less likely to strike if you give the impression of being in your home.
Ensure you lock up your valuables if you keep them in outbuildings or sheds. Attempt to secure any property which usually lives outdoors but isn’t fixed to anything. There are a lot of people roaming the streets on Halloween and if your valuables are on display this could make them a prime target for thieves. It’s worth investing in high-security locks to make sure your belongings are safe, but just keeping them out of site is a huge deterrent in itself.
If you’re not going to be home this Halloween, make sure to lock all windows and doors and activate any alarms. Some alarm systems allow you to operate them via your smartphone so if it’s triggered you will be alerted straight away. Dependent on the level of security you want, you can even consider CCTV to monitor your home and garden so you can keep track of any unwanted activity.
Protect your pets
Keep your pets indoors if possible on Halloween night. If they’re easily spooked, attempt to calm them down as much as you can. Keep the curtains closed and get them settled in a comfortable and safe environment. It may be worth keeping them in a quiet, separate room for the night with their favourite toy if they’re getting distressed by the knocks and cries of excited children. If you’re comfortable using them, there are calming, natural diffusers and spritzes available to help cats and dogs.
If your home falls foul to Halloween mischief or worse, the Chartered brokers at Hine can help. Home Insurance can cover you against theft and malicious damage so that you’re protected from the financial repercussions if something were to happen. Call us on 0161 438 0000 if you have any questions or concerns about your existing policy or to arrange a policy that covers you against risks posed throughout the year.