A Guide to Home Security
What You Need to Know
- Carry out a full assessment of your home and try and see your property as a burglar would, looking out for any security weak spots.
- Fit five-lever mortise deadlocks to all doors and fit all windows with locks and make sure you use them.
- Shop around for the ideal burglar alarm for your home, consider getting professional help to install it and check it’s working properly on a regular basis.
- Don’t give burglars the chance to work under the cover of darkness, fit outdoor lighting.
- Always ask a caller to show their identification and don’t be afraid to shut the door on them if you have any doubts.
- Team up with friends and neighbours and keep an eye on each other’s homes, particularly if one of you goes away. If you don’t have a local Neighbourhood Watch group, consider setting one up yourself.
- Keep your doors and windows locked, especially when you’re not at home. Failure to do so not only helps thieves, but may invalidate your home insurance.
Assess Your Security Needs
Before you start investing in any home security systems, you should carry out a thorough assessment of your property.
Looking at your home, ask yourself:
- How could you get inside if you didn’t have your keys?
- Are there any obvious weak points, such as old windows, that could be exploited by a criminal?
- What about visibility? Are there any parts of your property that are hidden from view or shrouded in darkness?
Put simply, if you can spot any weaknesses, so can a burglar.
It’s always good to get a second opinion here. Some local police forces offer free home security assessments or you may want to employ the services of a private company, with local firms being the best bet due to their knowledge of an area and its problems.
Many burglars take advantage of open or insecure windows to gain entry to a property.
So, as well as keeping your windows closed when you are not in a room, it’s a good idea to ensure they are as secure as possible.
The Home Office recommends if you fit new windows to ensure that are certified to the BS7950 British ‘Enhanced Security’ Standard.
Alternatively, invest in locks to keep existing windows secure. Most DIY shops will sell a range of inexpensive key-operated locks for windows of all shapes and sizes, including skylights.
Remember to always remove the keys from the locks, though keep them nearby so you can always open a window in an emergency.
Front and back doors should kept securely closed using a high quality lock ; if they’re not, then your home is at risk and your insurance policy could be invalid in the case of a break-in.
Both doors and door frames should be strong and in good condition, with the government recommending wooden doors be at least 44mm thick.
To beef up security, fit sturdy locks – for example five-lever mortise deadlocks – to the top and bottom of all your doors, including patio doors, and make sure you use them, even when you’re at home.
It’s also recommended that you make sure letterboxes are at least 16 inches from any locks, while fitting a letterbox cage can also prevent would-be-burglars from reaching through and trying their luck.
And remember, a criminal doesn’t always have to break a door down to enter your home. Many crimes are committed by burglars pretending to be someone else, such as a tradesperson or even a police officer. Always ask a caller to show their identification and don’t be afraid to shut the door on them if you have any doubts.
Gates and Fencing
Installing strong fencing or gates is a good way of making your property less attractive to opportunistic thieves. Again, look for any weak spots and take action to improve them.
High thorny bushes around the perimeter of your property are an effective deterrent, more so than high walls which most burglars will be able to climb over.
But always make passers-by can still see your home through or over any perimeters you may erect so that a burglar can’t work unseen.
Burglars will tend to avoid homes that appear to be fitted with alarms, so consider investing in one of the many systems on the market.
Audible-only alarms are the most-common and cheapest type available. These set off a siren or bell when triggered – for example by an opening door or a motion sensor fitted in a room – though these tend to be relatively unreliable and may even be ignored by neighbours or passers-by.
More sophisticated systems can be worth the extra investment. Fitting intelligent, height-specific motion sensors that can take into account the movement of pets, for instance, can help reduce false alarms.
ADT, for example, offer a range of home security systems and also offer installation services, as do a number of other companies such as Everest and Amthal.
Additionally, monitored alarms can also provide extra peace-of-mind. For a fee, a monitoring company will investigate any alarms, check if they are genuine, and alert the police if necessary. This type of system can be particularly useful for people living in isolated properties.
Burglars love nothing more than the cover of darkness, so always make sure your home is well-lit.
Low-energy dusk-to-dawn lighting provides a constant level of light through the night, offering reassurance and deterring would-be thieves.
Alternatively, it’s possible to buy lights that are turned on if they detect movement, though as with burglar alarms, these can often be ignored by neighbours. Always ensure that all lights are out of the reach of criminals.
Getting Outside Help
Again, most police forces will be happy to offer free home security assessments, so make use of expert help such as Thames Valley Police’s ‘Safer Homes’ scheme or the ‘Safer Homes Wales’ initiative run by South Wales Police.
Similarly, private security companies can be employed to give an assessment and to install a security system which best suits your property.
However, it’s wise to get several assessments and quotes before you invest in a new system, and it’s important to ensure that you only use a company that is registered with the National Security Inspectorate or the Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board.
Friends and neighbours can also be of help in making your home more secure.
Schemes like Neighbourhood Watch ensure members keep an eye on one another’s properties and it’s also a good idea to ask someone to maintain the illusion that you’re at home when you go away, for example by removing newspapers or other post, turning on lights at night and opening the curtains in the morning.
- Read about your rights if you are a victim of crime.
- Selling your house is also going to be easier with proper security measures in place on the property.
- Just make sure you avoid cowboy builders when having any work done on your home.
- The tips here on security also hold true when buying a flat.