One in 10 UK residents leaves a key under a plant-pot

Man potting plants
  • One in 10 UK residents leaves a key under a doormat or plant-pot while they go on holiday
  • Two fifths of holidaymakers don’t check their doors and windows are locked before they leave
  • July – September sees a 48% increase of home theft claims that occur while people are on holiday
  • The average value of home theft claims while people are on holiday is more than £6,000

Residents are being reminded to lock up before they jet off, as new research reveals some shocking home security habits ahead of holidays.

According to a new independent study from Aviva(1), only three fifths of travellers check all doors (61%) and windows (58%) are locked before they go away, while just two in five (43%) make sure sheds and garages are secured.

Fewer than half (48%) ensure valuables aren’t visible through windows, and just a fifth (19%) put away garden furniture – acts which can help to prevent opportunistic thefts.

More surprising still, one in 10 (9%) puts a key under a doormat or plant pot, to allow neighbours to check on their properties while away.

This is in spite of the fact that 14% of people surveyed said someone had burgled their home in the past, while an additional 11% had experienced an attempted burglary.

A full list of pre-holiday security habits is revealed as follows:

Home security precaution ahead of holiday

Percentage of UK adults who do this

Make sure the doors are locked


Make sure the windows are locked


Switch off all electric appliances that are not needed


Make sure no valuables are visible through the windows


Make sure sheds and garages are locked


Lock away ladders and tools


Set the burglar alarm


Put away garden furniture


Check the burglar alarm is working


Turn the water off before going away


Cancel or postpone regular deliveries, e.g. newspapers


Mow the lawn and trim hedges in front of the house


The research has been carried out to help people to protect their homes as peak holiday season approaches. Aviva data reveals July - September is a hot-spot for UK home theft claims that occur while people are on holiday - an increase of 48% compared to other months of the year(2). The average value of this type of claim is more than £6,000(3).

Home theft claims which occurred while people were on holiday predictably fell during 2020 and 2021, but may increase during 2022 as people start to travel again. Separate research (4) from the insurer finds 43% of UK adults have booked a holiday for some time in the next 18 months, with a further 31% planning to do the same.

The new Aviva study also highlights how residents protect their properties when taking a break.

Two fifths (40%) of holidaymakers ask family members to check on their homes while they are away and 14% actually ask someone to house-sit. More than a quarter (27%) leave lights on a timer to suggest someone is inside and one in eight (12%) ask a neighbour to park on the driveway.

Most people appear to be savvy about using social media before and during their holidays. Only 5% share their holiday plans on social media before going and 6% share holiday snaps or plans while away.

Kelly Whittington, Property Claims Director for Aviva UK, says: “So many people have postponed their breaks because of the pandemic, so summer 2022 is a fantastic time for holidays. But we’d urge people not to get so excited that they forget to carry out checks and leave their homes vulnerable while they’re away.

“A few simple steps can help to deter burglars and keep homes secure – so people aren’t returning to a post-holiday headache.”

Aviva has the following recommendations to help people protect their homes while on holiday:

  • Don’t forget to lock up: Aviva research finds two fifths of people don’t check that their doors or windows are locked before they go on holiday.
  • Don’t advertise your holiday on social media: Before you travel and while you’re away, be mindful that countdown trackers and holiday snaps will let others know you’re not at home.
  • Leave a key with a trusted neighbour, friend or family member. But give the key to the person to look after – don’t leave under a plant pot or doormat where anyone could find it: Ask your trusted person to check for other internal issues such as water leaks, as well as signs of unwanted guests.
  • Make your home seem occupied while away: Use timers to switch on lamps and radios to give the impression of someone being at home.
  • Ask a neighbour to park on your driveway: Again, this suggests that someone is living at the property.
  • Consider investing in a burglar alarm and security lighting: Both are practical ways to protect your home and can act as a deterrent to burglars.
  • Mow lawns and trim hedges before you go: An overgrown garden is a giveaway that residents may have gone away.
  • Lock ladders and tools away: Some burglars will have their own tool-kits, but others are more opportunistic, so make sure sheds and outbuildings are locked.
  • Keep your valuables out of sight: Where possible, keep valuables away from windows. Similarly, don’t store valuables in the bedroom. Thieves know that’s where most people keep their precious items, so hide them in different spots around the home.



1 Data relates to a survey of 2,001 UK adults, carried out by Censuswide on behalf of Aviva in June 2022.

2 Based on UK home insurance claims data from 2016 – 2021, relating to thefts involving violent / forceable entry to a property.

3 The average value of this type of claim was £6,380 (based on 2016-2019 data).

4 According to research from InsureThought on behalf of Aviva, with a sample of 837 adults from across the UK.  

Media Enquiries

Sarah Poulter

UK External Communications

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