Here are some easy ways to make your home more secure.
Statistics show that two thirds of burglars gain entry or remove items through doors. So make sure your doors are secure, do the following:
- Make sure external doors are strong and sturdy.
- Make wooden doors stronger by fitting a steel strip and plates to the door frame and around the lock.
- Don’t forget to check the hinges too. Check they are robust and attached with long, strong screws to both the door and the door frame.
- Check the locks, as most insurers insist on five-lever mortise deadlocks on external doors. If your locks aren’t up to scratch you could be invalidating your insurance.
Around 30 per cent of burglars gain access through a window. Check all your windows:
- Check windows and frames are in a good state of repair. Wooden frames are susceptible to rot, and metal frames may be prone to rust.
- Easily visible locks put a thief off targeting your house. They won’t want to break the glass and risk attracting attention.
- Fit key-operated window locks to all downstairs windows and easily-accessible upstairs windows.
- Don’t forget that skylights need locks too.
- Double glazed windows are usually fitted with an integral locking system.
- Before fitting extra locks to PVC-U or metal windows, check that the warranty won’t be affected.
- It can be tempting to leave doors and windows open in warmer months, but figures show that one in five burglaries take place without forced entry.
Although most burglaries occur when no one is home, some happen while there is someone in the house. You mustn’t assume that just because you are home it is safe to leave your doors and windows open. Also bear in mind that if a thief enters your home through an open door or window, your insurance company may refuse to pay out.
Put off potential burgulars
There are many ways to stop a would-be burglar from getting anywhere near your house in the first place:
- Check fences regularly and repair any gaps or weak spots.
- You could also consider attaching trellis to the top of your fencing. This will look attractive while also providing a flimsy structure that an intruder would find it difficult to climb over.
- Using gravel on driveways and paths can act as a deterrent, as the noise will alert you to visitors approaching your house.
- Keep shrubs and plants trimmed back so that there are no handy hiding places where a burglar could lurk while planning how to overcome your security measures.
- Some well placed prickly plants can put a potential intruder off venturing onto your property.
- Protect the possessions in your garden as well as those inside your home. Furniture, ornaments and gardening equipment are obvious targets, so make sure that anything valuable is locked away.
- Thieves will use anything to try and gain entry to your home, so tools left lying around could easily be put to use by an opportunist burglar.
Burglar alarms are great for scaring away a thief in the process of trying to enter your home. Police statistics show that 60 per cent of burglaries on homes fitted with burglar alarms are unsuccessful. Just the sight of an alarm will often put a burglar off even trying to enter your home. Installations by a reputable company start at around £450. Fit it yourself systems range from around £50 to £300. Insurance companies may offer discounts on professional installations.
For the elderly or those living in more remote areas, a monitored alarm is a good idea. These signal the company responsible for the alarm, who will check if the alert is genuine and then notify the police.
Alternatively, a CCTV system can act as a good deterrent, and even if a thief is not perturbed, with good quality video footage the police stand a better chance of catching the culprits. Again prices start at around £50, but remember, you get what you pay for, and grainy pictures are about as useful as no pictures at all. Movement activated security lights are a cheaper alternative.
Although there are a whole range of security devices on the market, protecting your home needn’t break the bank:
- A dummy alarm box fixed to the outside of your house can be just as effective in deterring would-be burglars, try looking on ebay.
- An outside light with an energy saving bulb is a low-cost alternative to movement activated security lights.
- A simple device like a spy-hole in your front door can offer you some protection while also showing thieves that you are security conscious.
- Another cheap choice is home security stickers, such as CCTV warnings or Neighbourhood Watch stickers, which will make a potential thief think twice about targeting your home.
Going on Holiday?
Being on holiday is the prime time for burglars, when people across the UK head off leaving their homes unoccupied. But every time you go away, whatever the time of year and even if it’s only for a day or two, remember that a house that is obviously unoccupied is a tempting target for an opportunist thief. With this in mind, it is worth spending the time taking a few extra security precautions before jetting off on your holidays, so that while you’re away you can concentrate on enjoying yourself!
- Make life easier by giving yourself a little reminder, maybe a post-it note stuck on the inside of the front door, to remind you to check all doors, windows and alarms.
- If you have milk or newspapers delivered, remember to cancel these for the duration of your holiday, as a build up could easily indicate to a burglar that no one is home.
- Ask a neighbour to collect your post, as a pile up of post could easily be spied through a nearby window.
- A few 24 hour timer plugs could be a good investment, as you can set a few lights and perhaps a TV or radio to come on for a set amount of time each day, making it seem like someone is home.
- Make sure your home contents insurance is up-to-date, so that if the unthinkable happens, at least you will be able to claim some compensation.
- Ask a neighbour to collect your post.
Finally, if the worst comes to the worst and a burglar does manage to get into your home, there are still things you can do to protect your possessions:
- Try and make sure anything valuable is out of sight, as much as you can.
- You could consider removing the risk from the equation altogether for a few select items by removing them from your home and placing them in a safety deposit box.
- Why not buy a safe for your home, with prices starting at around £25? For larger items, or those that are in regular use, security marking won’t stop your things being taken, but will mean that if police are able to recover your possessions they will quickly and easily know who to return them to. Your security code should consist of your house number (or the first three letters of your house name) and your postcode. Permanent marker pen can act as a deterrent if you mark your possessions in a prominent place, but if you don’t want to affect the appearance of the items, you could use an ultra-violet marker pen, which will be invisible to the naked eye once the ink dries. You can also get special markers for fine china and porcelain, which leave an indelible mark on top of the glaze and therefore shouldn’t affect the value.
Villains are resorting to new crimes to get around tighter security.
Cyber crime is fast growing and increasingly sophisticated. Scam emails are common, don’t be fooled by logos or even fake websites. Never give out your passwords and don’t choose obvious ones.
Fake callers prey particularly on the elderly, always check ID cards, if in any doubt call the police or the utility or company they claim to work for.
Put the phone down on any suspicious telephone call.