As part of your New Year’s resolutions for 2015 it may be worth thinking about being more security conscious when it comes to your home.
Your belongings may mean a lot to you but to an intruder they’re just a way of making quick and easy cash. A burglar can strike at any time day or night but most burglaries can be prevented by taking steps to ensure your home is secure.
Most burglars are opportunists and in 3 out of 10 burglaries access is gained through an open door or window, burglars love it when you make their job easier for them! The following steps will make it harder for them and in turn more likely that they will avoid your property.
When considering how you may want to upgrade the security of your home it is always a good idea to think like a potential intruder. The majority of intruders will look for the best opportunity to break into a property, some will even scope out a property prior to breaking in. Therefore it is important to think about how you can ensure that your property appears as if it is occupied at all times and that there isn’t anywhere external to your home anyone could hide i.e. high hedges or bins.
Which advises that you ask yourself the following questions:
Is it obvious when you’re on holiday or away from the home? For example, are your curtains always shut or is there lots of unopened post?
Are windows and doors left open, even if they’re not easily accessible?
Do your windows and doors have visible locks?
How well lit is the outside of your home?
Is there a spare key that’s easily visible, or easy to find, such as underneath the plant pot or above the ledge on the door?
Are the lights off all the time, making it look like you’re away?
Do you have high walls or hedges, which could give burglars protection from being seen?
Is accessing your house noisy for a burglar? For example, is there gravel on the driveway?
Are there any ladders lying around that a burglar could use to gain entry?
What equipment do you keep in your shed and garage? What is its value and can it be used to help someone break in?
How secure is the shed or garage? Is it always kept locked with high-quality padlocks and security locks?
Additional Security Measures
How many of us actually use additional security in our homes? According to figures by Which only 38% of Which members had extra locks fitted to their doors and 32% use a door chain.
As well as having an extra lock or door chain fitted it is also advisable you have the following fitted to your door:
Spy-hole – Keep out any unwanted visitors! A spy-hole offers 180 degrees of vision allowing you to identify callers before opening the door.
Hinge Bolts –Mortice fitted hinge bolts are designed primarily for outward opening hinged wooden doors. These offer added protection against forcing the door hinges and are automatically engaged when the door is closed.
Mortice Bolts – These are suitable for side and back doors as well as French doors. These are fitted to the top and bottom of the door and the bolts are not visible from the outside.
Letterbox guard/cage – These can be fitted to prevent ‘key fishing’ i.e. a burglar using props such as a coat hanger or fishing rod to hook keys on the inside of the door (Aviva).
Other additional security measures you may want to consider…
Security lights – Lights with sensors in the garden and front of your property will help to deter a burglar as they are more confident when working in the dark.
Key Safe – A Key Safe is a secure box where you can safely and securely store your keys without having to hide them or to rely on a neighbour or family member to look after them.
Leave a light on a timer when you are not at home as it will look like the home is occupied. Other products on the market such as ‘Fake TV’ also act as a good deterrent as these products make it look like someone is watching TV.
Upgrade the locks on any garages or sheds and if there is a window, fit a curtain to ensure a burglar cannot see what is inside.
When having any additional security fitted to your home it is always a good idea to call a local locksmith. A local locksmith will be able to do a home security and home insurance compliance check on your home and they will be more than happy to upgrade your home security for your peace of mind in 2015.
In order for any type of lock to be classed as ‘British Standard’ the lock must have been through strict testing this includes the strength, durability and its security. You need to look for the British Standard Kitemark to make sure your lock is British Standard. By using these locks you can give yourself a sense of security, knowing they have been through rigorous testing.
Bins and Ladders should be stored away from your home
These could be used by any potential thief to gain entry to your house.
Put away your valuables
Never leave any valuables in direct view of a window, it’s like advertising the contents of your home to any potential intruder.
Don’t share holiday plans on social media
Letting everyone now when and for how long you will be away from your property is dangerous. An empty house is a burglars dream.
Make it look like someone is home
Invest in a light timer, you can set you lamps to go on and off during the day, even if you’re away! Giving the illusion that someone is in the property. You can take this to the next level by purchasing a TV simulator that gives the impression that someone is watching the television inside your home.
Fit a security light outside
Having a security light on a sensor outside your property will deter burglars as they are often more confident when it’s dark.
Store all house and car keys away from the front door
This will help stop what is known as ‘key fishing’ which is method of entry used by burglars, utilising the letterbox. A letterbox cage or guard is a good protection method as is a key safe.
Lock your doors!
Of course the most simple thing you can do to secure your home is to make sure all the windows and doors are locked. The majority of intruders will use an unlocked door or window to gain entry.
Check the locks on any gates or sheds and upgrade/replace if necessary.
Make sure anything that can be used by a burglar to gain entry to your property i.e. garden tools is safely locked away.
As part of Hertfordshire Constabulary’s ‘The Top Five Operation Guardian Tips’ they recommend securing your garden by shutting and locking any gates and making sure you lock away any garden tools as these can be used by burglars to break in.
In 2012 the Guardian even reported that thefts in garden furniture and accessories had soared as the value of what we buy for the garden has increased, a survey by Confused.com showed that the average value of a British garden’s contents was £825, this included garden tools, lawnmowers, patio furniture and barbecues. All of these items are easy pickings for an opportunistic burglar, so lock them away!
Use a UV pen to mark any valuables so if the worse does happen it may help to make recovery easier.
Many Police Forces and Home Insurance Providers will advise marking any valuables especially those that are more mobile i.e. a laptop or tablet.
A burglary infographic from Tesco Compare showed that the top 5 most stolen items included…
Mobile Phones (6%)
Jewellery and Watches (11%)
Cameras and MP3 Players (13%)
Marking your valuables will usually deter thieves from stealing them as an item that is clearly marked will be more difficult for a thief to sell and will often reduce the items value (Devon and Cornwall police). It also helps to increase the chance of your property being identified if the worse did happen and it was either lost or stolen.
Norfolk Constabulary recommends the following ways to effectively mark your property:
Electronic marking – Use property register website Immobilise to electronically register your valuables details. This helps Police Forces across the UK to identify the owner of any lost or stolen items.
UV pen marking – Use a UV pen (invisible to the naked eye) to mark your valuables ideally write your postcode, house number or house name. Usually stickers are supplied with any UV pens which indicate that the valuables are marked; these can deter a burglar from stealing your property in the first place.
Photography – Taking detailed photos of your valuables will help to prove they are yours if they are stolen.
Permanent Marker Pen/Paint – This is recommended for marking large items such as machinery, garden equipment and tools.
Postcode Stencil – This is literally a stencil of your postcode, which is applied with paste and etches your details onto your valuables.
DNA Technology – There are several products available that use DNA technology to mark valuables. They contain microdots with unique reference numbers that are linked to your home. These are detected with a UV light and the information is then obtained from the microdots.
Inventories – Inventory all of your valuable items either by listing them, taking photographs or videos.
Lights with sensors in the garden and at the front of your property will help to deter a burglar as they are more confident when working in the dark.
As the nights draw darker, during the winter months it is really worth considering installing motion detector lights externally to your home.
Considering that the majority of burglaries take place during the night, (56% of recorded burglaries happen at night according to Tesco Compare), it is definitely a good idea to have security lights fitted to your property as these can help to deter a burglar from breaking into your home, as they are less likely to feel confident breaking into a property that is well-lit. The majority of Police Forces will advise this as an additional security measure, “consider fitting outside security lighting or a visible alarm to help deter burglars” (ThamesValley Police). ThamesValley Police also advise “using pea shingle or gravel on a driveway and spiky plants in garden beds”.
It is always a good idea to have a spy hole or door chain fitted to your front door especially in the holiday season where you are more likely to receive more visitors to your home.
When evaluating the security of your home it is important to consider that you may need additional security such as a spy hole or door chain, which will not only improve the security of your home by allowing you to keep out unwanted guests but will also add to your peace of mind. The Metropolitan Police advises that a spy hole and door chain or even a limiter should be fitted for added safety and security as “these will enable you to deal with callers to your front door whilst retaining a level of security.”