Advice from The Metropolitan Police; Simple security steps to safeguard your home

During lockdown many people took the opportunity to start long-awaited DIY projects around the home. Taking a few simple steps can spruce up your security and reduce the chances of your home being broken into. Security doesn’t have to be expensive – even prickly garden plants trained against a fence can put a burglar off –  but the more layers of security you use, the safer your property.

Burglars often target premises from the rear, where they cannot be seen. If you have a back garden, ensure it is surrounded by robust timber fencing any paths have a full height lockable gate to prevent easy access from the front. Lightweight trellis added to the top of any timber fence can also prevent thieves climbing over. Check with your local planning office about how high your fence line can be. Don’t be tempted to add barbed wire or broken glass to the top of any fence or wall; instead simply consider a layer of prickly plastic cones to deter any climbers. You can however use thorny plants along any fence line to prevent unwelcome visitors. Securing a shed is a good way to prevent burglars from reaching garden tools – which they can then use to break into your home. Make sure the shed is firmly anchored down, fitted with tamper proof hinges and screws, a closed shackle padlock and has grilles over any windows. 

If you want to improve the security of your home, remember to check your home contents insurance -first to make sure you have met any minimum level of physical security as part of your existing policy. There are different approaches depending upon whether your doors or windows are timber or UPVC. A timber front door will need a minimum of two locks, one positioned a third of the way from the top and another position a third of the way from the bottom of the door, to reduce pressure to the door if a burglar tries to force it. A UPVC door should have a multi-point locking system with a barrel that does not project too much from the lock. For more details about the exact requirements for each door type, visit https://www.met.police.uk/cp/crime-prevention/residential-burglary/

If you don’t feel confident about changing locks yourself, contact a member of the Master Locksmiths Association, who can attend and assess your current security. 

Buying a timer switch for your lights or television can suggest your home is occupied during the longer nights of autumn and winter – deterring a potential burglar. For the contents of your home, there are a number of forensic property marking schemes which allow you to mark valuable items and register them to your address. They can be traced back to you if they are stolen and recovered. Homes where contents have been marked should have a sticker placed in the front window – to act as a further deterrent. 

You may want to install a home safe to store your valuables; these should be bolted to the wall or floor, and always be out of view. All safes are insurance rated according to the type and value of items they store, so once again, check your home insurance to see if you are adequately insured when using a particular safe. Some gangs will target homes where they know a safe is present – it may be wiser to store a large quantity of jewellery and valuables in a safety deposit vault, removing any risk. A video doorbell is also a great way to monitor callers with live footage available on your smartphone. They can be easily installed, and can also cover the rear of your home with a subsidiary camera.

For burglar alarms, consider approaching a professional installer who is a member of either the National Security Inspectorate or the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board.