Home security is a good way to help reduce your chances of being burgled. Many burglaries are carried out by opportunist thieves who can get in easily and quickly and often without the need of force either through an open door, window or other easy point of entry. Some simple steps and a bit of thought can improve security and put off burglars and is money well spent.
So how secure is your property? A good way to check is to look at your property as if you were a burglar and see if you can spot the vulnerabilities. If you can spot them then they will be obvious to a potential burglar. Why not try to see if you could get in without using your keys – although you may like to let your neighbours know so they don't call the police!
Don't forget to consider fire safety when fitting any security systems. You want to keep people out by securing the entrances to your property but also be able to escape in case of emergencies.
13 Helpful Tips
- Windows. If you are having new uPCV windows installed make sure they include key operated locks. If you have wooden window frames look to install key operated window locks and don't just install one lock per window, you can fit 2 or 3 depending on the size and style. You may also consider dripping a few drops of solder on to the screw heads as this will stop a burglar from simply unscrewing the lock after cutting a small hole in the glass. Never keep the keys in the locks but keep them out of sight.
- Doors. If you are fitting a new uPVC/composite or wooden front door make sure it conforms to British standards. Seek professional advice if you want to fit additional locks to uPCV doors. Wooden doors and door frames should be in good condition and maintained on a regular basis. Rotten wood is an easy target for a burglar. Wooden doors should be at least 44mm (13/4 inches) thick. If the door hinges are on the outside then a burglar can simply remove the hinge pin to gain entry, so reset the hinges on the inside. You may also like to have an external letter box rather than one in the door as this will prevent dangerous items, for instance a firework, being pushed through into your home. This is especially important if your property is likely to be left unoccupied for long periods of time. Also see point 3 below.
- Letter Boxes are for Letters. If you have a letterbox in your door then it should be at least 16in away from any locks and you should never leave your keys in the lock as burglars can put hands or gadget through to unlock your door. You may like to fit a letter box cage or restrictor to help prevent this.
- Patio Doors These are vulnerable as they can be levered off their tracks so always try to ensure that the sliding section in on the inside. Multi locking systems, security bolts and anti theft bolts are available and can be fitted to existing patio doors. Ensure all locks comply with current British Standards. You can also place a strong metal bar or pipe in the middle of the bottom track of the door slide and this will ensure that the sliding door cannot be opened.
- View those Callers. Spy holes or door viewers are an ideal way of seeing who is at your door before you open it.
- Door Chains or bars. These can be deployed prior to opening your door if you want to help stop a caller from pushing their way in.
- Locks – ensure all locks comply with current British Standards. Avoid simple spring back locks that can be subject to 'loiding' which is the method of using a plastic credit card to slip between the door and door frame in order to depress the latch tongue and unlock the door. Five lever mortise deadlocks should be fitted about 1/3 of the way up the door and needs to be locked and unlocked using a key from either side. However make sure that the gap between the door and the frame is minimal to prevent a burglar using a hacksaw or power tool to cut through the bolt.
- Keys. Never leave a spare key outside in an unsecured place - burglars know all the usual hiding places. Keep house and car keys away from doors and windows and out of sight. Some burglars will use magnetic devises and fishing rods to steal them through the letter box. It's a good idea to have a safe place to keep your keys and use it regularly so you will know where they are in an emergency. If you move to a new home change the locks – other people will have copies and may not have handed all of them to you.
- Don't Get Distracted. Visitors to your home are mostly genuine but there are always some that are calling with the intention of tricking their way into your home. So be prepared. Always keep your front and back doors locked at all times, even if you are at home. It only takes a minute for a burglar to entry your home and steal small but valuable items such as a laptop. Also it is easy for a team of burglars to distract a homeowner at the front door whilst a friend enters through the back door. If you get an unknown caller always check identity cards carefully and don't be satisfied with a quick look from a distance. Ask to take a closer look to see if it appears genuine and close the door whilst you do this. If you are still unsure then look up a phone number and call to verify their identity. Never call the number on the card as this could be a fake. Also be aware that bogus callers can look convincing in the way they dress, some may even wear a uniform. If you have any doubts however small then keep them out.
- On the Outside. Make sure you have good quality outdoor lighting. This can put off a burglar as it draws attention to their activities. If you install outside lighting always following the manufacturer's instructions and fix them out of easy reach - usually at a height of 2.5 metres (8 feet). Dusk to Dawn lights will come on only when it's dark and provide a constant level of light. Motion sensors lights will automatically come on when triggered by something or someone passing by. These can annoy neighbours and can cause unnecessary worry if they are triggered by a passing animal. If you elect for this type of lighting always ensure that they are angled downwards and positioned to be a deterrent but where possible not an annoyance to neighbours.
- Gates and Fences. Check for vulnerable areas like a broken fence, a gap in a hedge or a gate with a weak lock. If you are planning on planting a hedge then a thorny one can put intruders off trying to get through them. Bear in mind that a thick hedge can mask burglars from passer's by. Gravel is a good deterrent – it's noisy to walk on. Wooden garden constructions like gazebo's and pergolas can be used as a climbing frame for a burglar to reach an upstairs window so don’t build one to close to your property. If you have a solid wall or fence then think about putting a trellis at the top as this will make it harder for someone to climb over. Do not use barbed wire or broken glass to top a fence or wall as you could be held liable for injuries caused. There are some safer alternatives and these can be found at reputable garden centres, DIY stores or online. If you have a solid gate you may like to consider having one that is slatted or made of iron rails and although this will not provide you with total privacy neither will it a burglar.
- Garages and Sheds. Usually a treasure trove for a thief and often full of expensive garden and DIY tools which are not only valuable in their own right but can be ideal for using to break into the house. Never leave a garage or shed unlocked especially if it is connected to your house via an internal door. Always fit strong padlocks and ensure that doors are solid enough to withstand being kicked in or prised open. If you have a ladder, then fix it securely to the wall so that it can't be used to access upstairs windows. You could even consider having lockable steel boxes bolted to the floor to store your equipment.
- Be Alarmed! Having an alarm can put off a would-be burglar. Consider if you want an audible only or a monitored alarm that is connected to a central hub. Always get advice before hand, obtain some quotes from reputable companies that are registered with a recognised organisation. If installing a bells only alarm, make sure you conceal all wiring as exposed wiring can be cut by a burglar. Remember that if an alarm develops a fault which frequently triggers it then get it fixed immediately. Not only will it annoy the neighbours but many people will simply ignore an alarm if it goes off on a regular basis.
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