Home security often comes at a high cost, but can you put a price on defending your family and personal effects?
Our homes are a place of sanctuary and should offer us, and our families and belongings, safety and security. Or at least they should. In the period April 2016 to March 2017, there were 414,912 burglaries reported to the police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, accounting for 7% of all crime. Whilst that means your chances of being burgled are only 2-3%, why leave anything to chance?
Shockingly, in 3 out of 10 burglaries, thieves have an easy ride and do not have to use force to gain entry to the home simply using an open or unlocked door or window. We thought we’d use this opportunity to offer some practical advice on how to secure your home and reduce your chances of being a victim of burglary.
Secure Your Doors and Windows
Burglars use doors to gain entry in almost 7 in 10 burglaries and are the primary way for thieves to gain entry whether there are locked or unlocked. Always make sure that all your doors are locked when not in use and that each element of the door are in good condition. This includes patio doors, kitchen doors, French windows and even internal doors that lead to garages. Frames, hinges and any glass panels should be replaced if they are vulnerable and locks should comply with Home Security British Standard BS3621.
An open window is an invitation for thieves. Image via Flickr.
Don’t Offer Window Shopping
Most burglaries occur as a result of opportunism rather than a pre-planned event. They happen either because a thieve spots something valuable left on display through a window or because an opportunity is evident (such as an open door or window). Make sure that you leave valuables such as mobiles, laptops and cash out of sight and keep your windows closed or use security latches.
Home Security Burglar Alarms
There is no doubt that burglar alarms are a good deterrent as well as offering a warning of an intruder. You can install a basic perimeter alarm or get a comprehensive monitored home security system with emergency policy response.
Never leave spare keys in convenient hiding places such as under a doormat or upturned flowerpot. There are also products on the market such as fake rocks that offer ‘safe’ hiding places. Thieves also know about these kinds of products and are a pretty useless way to disguise them. If you are someone who often forgets their keys then install a KeySafe outside your home. A small but secure box with a combination code to access a set of keys, you can purchase a police approved unit for around £50 but always ensure they are installed correctly.
On the subject of keys, always ensure that your car keys are hidden out of site as increasingly, car theft is becoming a major risk during domestic burglaries.
Keep spare keys secure with a key safe. Image via B&Q.
Love Thy Neighbours
Neighbourhood watch schemes are sadly in decline but these useful and often very effective programmes to create safe and more secure communities. Joining or forming a neighbourhood watch scheme can help reduce crime in your area. By being proactive and reporting suspicious behaviour, you could prevent a burglary before it happens.
4% of incidents of theft from the home occur as a result of ‘distraction burglaries’. Bogus callers to your door try get invited into a household so they can steal valuables. A clever and effective method, this could be whilst you make a cup of tea or check some paperwork.
Don’t buy and sell at the door and never invite strangers into your home.
Sheds and garages are the most vulnerable parts of your property and many thefts from the home are related to bicycles, tools and vehicles. Fit secure padlocks to your outbuildings and always keep ladders locked up to stop a thief from using them to access your home.
Always secure bikes with a robust lock if they are left outside. Image via Flickr.
Spread the Risk
If you are unlucky enough to be burgled then you can make your valuables more secure by spreading them around the home. Don’t hide valuables in the bedroom as this is the prime spot to search for personal property. Instead, use alternative cubby holes and don’t put ‘all your eggs in one basket’.
Postcode Your Property
If your home is burgled then ensure that your property can be returned to you by using CRE marking. This durable identification makes it harder for criminals to sell on and can be a good deterrent as well as a means by which your property can be returned to you. You can buy home kits to mark up to 40 items.
Lastly, whilst the risk is low and can be minimised, unfortunately domestic theft can occur so always make sure that your home is protected with an adequate level of insurance. Good home security can help reduce your premiums and may make the cost of upgraded window and door locks or a burglar alarm a good investment.