Stop Thieves in Their Tracks: A Guide to Securing Your Home from Burglars
July 11, 2016
Every 40 seconds in the UK there is an attempted burglary, so knowing how to keep your
home as safe and secure as possible should be a top priority for every homeowner or occupier. Here’s a guide to help you improve your home security and protect your house from potential burglaries.
The first step is to make your house difficult to enter. Therefore, all exterior doors should be sturdy, durable, and kick-proof, with high security locks. As the home’s first point of entry, doors are popular with home invaders, with 70% of successful burglars entering through a door (as opposed to a window).
The strength of your door could be the difference between a failed attempt and a successful forced entry. The sturdiest material for exterior doors is reinforced steel, however these tend to require extra maintenance. The next best option is solid wood, or at the very least, a door with a solid wood core. UPVc doors offer varying levels of security depending on the make and model but can be enhanced by using a high security cylinder.
They say a door is only as strong as its lock – the material of your door might be very important but is useless without a good lock. Thieves are drawn to doors that only have one cylinder lock, rather than a cylinder lock plus a deadlock. Opt for a high quality, heavy-duty, deadbolt lock with a 20mm throw bolt – even the strongest door will not be secure enough if the lock does not extend far enough into the doorframe. All exterior doors should have a British Standard lock fitted. This can be BS3621 for mortice and rim locks or TS007 for cylinders.
The weakest point on a door is almost always the lock strike plate that holds the lock bolt in place because of the lightweight mouldings it is secured with. British Standard locks are supplied with a heavy-duty strike plate and fixing screws that penetrate into the frame. This will ensure your door is absolutely kick-proof.
Having a visible security alarm or signage on your house is an excellent form of protection and an immediate deterrent for criminals. Statistics show up to 84% of burglars avoid homes with alarms and 60% of attempted burglaries carried out on properties with alarms fitted are unsuccessful. However, they can easily point out a cheap or dummy systems so it’s important you invest in one from a reputable, well-known company, and of course remember to set it before leaving the house and when you go to bed at night.
Make sure your alarm is installed, programmed, and maintained properly, with a
functioning audible horn or bell. If there is a central station, this should be out of sight from the exterior as burglars could otherwise peer in and see when it is not activated. Obviously, security systems that have surveillance cameras or automatically notify the police are your best option, however these can sometimes be relatively pricey.
Window security is often overlooked but is a very important aspect to home security, and, again, a typical point of entry for burglars. Make sure you fit key locks to all your windows, especially those that are on the ground floor or are easily accessible e.g. above a flat roof. This is relatively cheap and easy to do yourself. Reinforce your windows with tempered or laminated glass as these are more durable and harder to break than traditional glass. If you want to ventilate your house, pin the windows or leave them on a catch but always remember to lock them when you leave the house.
If you want to go one step further, there are several types of window alarms that you can mount, such as a window sensor alarm which detects and sounds an alarm when a window is opened or broken. Just by having these visible from the outside can help to deter the burglar from trying to enter as it indicates that the rest of your house is probably quite secure.
Additional Security Measures
Garages & Sheds
Garages and sheds should also have high quality locks. Make sure that tools and ladders are locked away as these can be expensive to replace and could be used to break into your home. Chains and cables can be used with anchor points to secure items in garages & sheds to stop them being removed.
Back & Side Gates
Make sure your back or side gate does not have a convenient handle for the thief to step onto and over. Opt for a gate with the lock out of reach on the other side.
Keep the outside of your house well lit. If possible, put them on a timer to turn on at dusk, so they come on even when you are not at home. For shadowed areas, motion-activated flood lights also help to create extra security.
Never leave keys outside your house, whether this be round the back, under a doormat, or hidden in a plant pot – burglars know these tricks all too well! Leave spare keys with trusted neighbours or family. You should also be careful not to leave keys left out in sight inside your house either. Leaving keys within reach of a window or in a lock could make the thief’s job a whole lot easier. At night, keep your car keys near, for example, hidden away in your bedside table.
Try not to have lots of trees and bushes near your front door as these offer the perfect hiding place for burglars and also allows them to closely examine your house and even its contents. However, planting thorny bushes under windows could be a good idea to make it more difficult for the burglar to access your window.
Blinds & Curtains
To prevent snooping, use blinds and curtains as burglars tend to “window shop” to decide which home looks the most alluring and profitable. Try and get into the habit of shutting them at night and when you go out in the evening.
Don’t position or leave valuables in plain sight and avoid having large amounts of cash at home. If you have a lot of small valuables you may want to consider investing in a high security home safe with an electronic combination or key lock. Make sure you install your safe securely and have it hidden away out of sight. Marking valuable property and taking photographs of valuables are good ways of helping aid identification and recovery should they be stolen.
There are a few safety precautions worth taking before you go away on holiday and leave the house unattended; you want to fool burglars into thinking you are in fact at home. Firstly, cancel delivery of milk or any other regular deliveries as having these left of your porch for a couple of days is an instant giveaway. Ask a friend or trusted neighbour to open and shut blinds and curtains and collect any post. Set indoor and outdoor lights with automatic timer switches, and finally, don’t post about your upcoming holiday on social media!