Check now to ensure your home can stop unwelcome visitors in their tracks
Steps to take to avoid your home being burgled including fitting good locks, understanding how thieves work and what they’re interested in stealing basic precautions.
Being burgled is one of the worst things that can happen to you, and with the amounts of valuable and easy to steal items such as laptops and smartphones in the home, burglaries are still a very real threat. Checking how efficient your home is at warding off unwanted visitors is definitely time well spent.
The good and bad news
Generally, burglaries are declining according to government statistics – as of figures up to March 2017, around 2 in every 100 households experienced a burglary meaning that just 2% of the UK’s approximately 25 million homes were broken into. This is four times less than during 1995.
That said, it still means around half a million homes suffer the upheaval, trauma and expense of a burglary with the autumn and winter months generally the most popular time of year for break ins.
Being aware of the risks
It can be quite a shock to discover how easily seasoned burglars can gain access to a house and how vulnerable many homes are – even those occupied by those who feel they’ve done a good job of securing their property.
For example, something as simple as a calendar visible through the kitchen window could reveal when the occupiers are due to be away on holiday, and a cobweb round a front door keyhole can reveal no one uses the deadlock (assuming one has been fitted in the first place).
Many thieves tend to stick to smaller, easy to remove items like jewellery and even documentation.
So what can you do to deter thieves?
The following measures will help make your home more secure:
Window and door locks – the first basic defence against theft, so ensure you have good quality window locks and ideally a five lever mortice or deadlock bolt type on doors.
A reputable local locks expert such as this locksmith in Essex can advise and fit locks of the right type – bear in mind locks of a certain standard are likely required by your household contents insurance company. Check their website or your documentation to ensure the locks at least meet your insurer’s required standards.
If you’ve just moved into a property, changing the locks should be a priority as you never know who may still have a key. If you’re renting, ask the landlord to change the locks.
Hedges, fences and garden access – ensure all fencing is in good order, garden doors are secure and preferably lockable, and that hedges, shrubs and bushes don’t grow too high. While you may not want to be overlooked by neighbours, too much concealment hides burglar activity.
Tools and other items – keep your garden tools and other items hidden away in a lockable shed or garage. Burglars will often use whatever they find around your property to break in rather than carry their own tools around, so don’t leave anything lying about that could help them gain access.
Valuables storage – a safe is ideal but should be mounted to the floor.
Burglar alarm – while an expense, alarms are money well spent as they’ll deter all but the most determined thief. Again, your locksmith can help advise you and some supply and fit alarms.
Ensure you actually use it though; according to Liverpool Victoria Insurance a third of burglar alarms aren’t activated other than when the occupants are away for a prolonged period. Also, a dummy alarm cover with no ‘real’ alarm probably won’t deter a burglar.
Cameras – there are various security cameras available ranging from full CCTV systems to small cameras connected wirelessly to the Internet you can view live while you’re not at home, and doorbell cams so you can see who is at the door before opening up. The obvious presence of cameras will deter many burglars.
General care and attention – don’t leave doors open, ajar or unlocked even when you’re home during the daytime since most burglaries occur during daylight hours; opportunist thieves don’t need much invitation and can be in and out within moments. Some three in ten burglars gain access through an unlocked door or window, so keep doors and windows shut and locked at all times.
Ensure valuables can’t be easily spotted through windows where possible.
Remote burglary threats – be careful what you divulge on social media sites; announcing to one and all you’re in Bali for a month complete with dates could be information of the wrong kind for a thief.
Similarly posting photos on Facebook or Instagram of a beautiful and expensive new engagement ring or Rolex watch could be asking for an unwanted visitor sometime soon.
Your locksmith can help with not only locks and alarms but other anti-theft ideas, and your local police may be able to send someone round to assess your home for security. This along with taking the steps above can help you avoid becoming an unwanted burglary statistic.