If your home has ever been burgled, you will know what a devastating experience it is to have your possessions taken by an opportunist thief. The loss and/or damage of your personal property is one thing – you will have to deal with the police, there are financial implications to contend with, insurance companies to haggle with, and there’s the sheer pain and injustice of it all.
In addition, there’s the sentimental value of stolen items that are often simply irreplaceable. And while all this is bad enough, the sense of safety in your own home may be gone forever.
Crime statistics always make grim reading, even though domestic burglary offences actually fell from 2015 to 2016, and are down by 71% since 1995. However, the fear of crime remains high – and this is a powerful motivator for any householders to take action.
If you want to protect your home against the chance of burglary, we have 7 great tips to help make a real difference to your home security.
1. Fit high quality deadbolt locks
Burglars are inherently opportunistic, so it makes sense to make entry as difficult as possible for them. Secure deadbolt locks will take longer to overcome, making your home more difficult to break into than, say, next door. Which may well be bad news for your neighbour, but it’s good news for you.
But let’s start outside. If you have wooden garden gates or metal security gates, there’s a wealth of heavy duty locks to choose from – see a specialist supplier such as Signet Locks for the best range of security solutions.
For your front door, your lock should be fitted with a 5 lever mortice deadlock that conforms to British Standard 3621 or European Standard EN12209, while your back door should have a 5 lever 2 bolt sash lock halfway up the door and include mortice rack bolts for extra safety. Glass panels (best avoided) should be toughened glass or laminated glass panels. Of course, your locks and bolts are only as good as the door they are fitted to, so make sure that the frame is fitted properly and the woodwork of the door and frame are in good condition.
2. Install home security technology
If you don’t already have a burglar alarm, now is the time to research the market. Probably the most effective means of protecting your home against burglaries is to install a monitored home security system.
Sophisticated systems will alert you when an intruder enters your house, with audible alarms to scare burglars away before any harm is done. You can set different zones in the house, and also add an instant notification to the police for immediate attention.
Security cameras are an extra means to guard against burglary. Not only will the would-be intruder be highly motivated not to be caught on camera, if he does there’ll be live footage of the break-in that can be used as evidence.
3. Let there be light
Whether on camera or in real life, no burglar wants to be seen. Investing in proper outdoor lighting is a great way of deterring an intruder whose success depends on working undetected, and preferably in the dark.
Make sure your front garden, front porch and the rear and side of your house is well lit, especially at night. Tonight is as good a time as any to carry out a ‘light audit’ to see where extra lighting may be needed.
For indoor lighting, timed devices are a tried and tested method to fool a burglar into thinking the house is occupied. Depending on the degree of home technology in your home, you can set timers to switch on the lights, close curtains, put the TV or radio on to give the illusion that someone is at home.
4. Get a dog
It’s not particularly surprising that dog ownership has long had the benefit of being a great burglar deterrent. Given the choice, burglars prefer dog free homes – that’s a fact. And while large dogs are clearly more intimidating, even yappy little ones can be effective in warding off a would-be burglar.
Obviously, owning a dog is a serious responsibility – you should never just get a dog for security reasons. Your canine companion will need to be given love and attention and treated as a wanted member of the family.
5. Keep your travel plans off social media
Telling your friends about your upcoming business trip or holiday is one thing, but sharing the news on a public platform is quite another. You may as well put a poster in the window announcing the fact that your home will be empty for a week to any passing would-be burglars!
Much better to err on the side of caution and keep your travel plans off Facebook etc. Make sure you tell other family members to do the same.
6. Make a list of your valuables
It goes without saying that you should have adequate home contents insurance that covers burglaries. In addition, it’s advisable to keep a note of your valuables, ideally with photographs. This is not so much a deterrent against burglars as just plain commons sense.
Having a record of your valuables makes it much easier for you to obtain the correct insurance compensation if the worst comes to the worst. What’s more, the stolen items can be identified by the police, aiding the chance of their recovery.
If at all possible, think about installing a safe in your home. It’s not difficult to do and adds an extra layer of security to keep your jewellery, personal documents and other valuables safe in the event of a break-in.
7. Neighbourhood Watch
If you can’t watch your property because you’re away, wouldn’t it be handy to have someone else keep an eye out for you? Neighbourhood Watch areas are a good way to promote safety in the area for all concerned. Just think what a group of vigilant neighbours all looking out for each other can do for your home security and general peace of mind.
Investigate if there is a neighbourhood watch scheme in your area and, if not, speak to your local police station about setting one up.