Contents and personal liability

Burglars take advantage of darker nights – find out how to protect your home

Peak season for break-ins: how to deter burglars. Source: iStock

As the cold season gets under way and the days get shorter, darker nights provide the perfect cover for burglars. In Switzerland they strike particularly often in winter. Find out what steps you can take to better secure your home against break-ins.

Every nine minutes there is a break-in somewhere in Switzerland. According to a Comparis study, almost 50 per cent of all household contents losses are caused by burglary. Each break-in costs insurance companies an average of 8,400 francs.

Autumn and winter – peak season for burglars

No other season sees as many break-ins as autumn and winter – mainly because it goes darker earlier. This gives intruders a window of opportunity to strike before the unsuspecting residents return from work. After the clocks go back for winter, Swiss insurance companies register 20 per cent more cases of home thefts.

However, many break-ins can be avoided without having to transform your home into Fort Knox. With this in mind, has compiled a list of key tips for protecting yourself against burglary, simple theft and robbery.

Key tips to protect your home from burglary

  • First of all, introducing measures to properly protect your home against burglary not only helps you feel safer within your own four walls but can also translate into savings on home contents insurance premiums as well.
  • Have a neighbour regularly pick up your mail during longer absences or ask the post office to hold your mail for this time period. Burglars look specifically for overflowing post boxes when searching for unoccupied homes.

  • Be careful when hiding a key – thieves like to check for keys under door mats, in postboxes or in flower pots.

  • Keep your eyes open for suspicious markings on walls or doors. Criminals communicate with each other using a code of scribbled signs and symbols. For example, an "X" can mean: break-in preparations are under way – wealthy homeowners.

  • If you notice something suspicious or even catch a burglar in the act, you should alert the police as quickly as possible by calling the emergency number 117. "Better call too early than too late" is the advice given in the Swiss police safety guide. But you should not attempt to apprehend a burglar yourself!

  • Install light timers, smart bulbs and fake TV simulators in your home. Light scares off thieves because they get the impression that somebody is home. Many break-in attempts can be thwarted early on by the presence of motion detectors in the hallway, on the terrace or by the garage. You should always ensure that your lights go on at irregular intervals. Many burglars observe apartments and houses over a long period of time, and can quickly work out whether someone is actually at home, or whether a light timer is set. A good solution is to invest in smart bulbs or a smart home security kit, which allows you to control your security devices remotely via an app.

  • Have your locks checked by a professional. Many locks are almost as easy for criminals to open as unlocked doors.

Who pays in the event of loss and damage from a burglary?

In most cases, home contents insurance covers loss and damage caused by burglaries. Insurers make a distinction between burglary and what is known as “simple theft from home”. If a burglar breaks a pane of glass or picks a lock to enter the home, the event is considered to be burglary. This kind of damage is included in basic household insurance cover, which pays out for the stolen and damaged property at their original value. Jewellery and cash, however, are usually only covered up to a certain value.

Home contents insurance also pays out for consequential damage resulting from a break-in, such as a broken door lock or a smashed window.

Important tip: Adjust the sum insured in your contents policy regularly to ensure you have sufficient cover in the event of burglary or theft. It's also worth switching – or at least comparing – contents insurance from time to time. You might be able to save a few hundred francs on your annual premium.