In our Quick Property Sale series of topical blog subjects, this week’s episode will look at domestic break-ins and prevention.
When was the last time you checked your home security? Burglary rates may have fallen over the past decade, but the trauma and financial impact of a break-in is something we all want to avoid. Burglars usually target homes that appear to be an easy target, so it is important to take steps to burglar-proof your home. So, let’s talk about what you can do to make your home safer.
First things first, let’s start by considering the entry points to your home. Do all of your doors and windows have visible locks? Are they left open, even if they’re not easily accessible? Is there a spare key that’s easily visible, or easy to find, such as underneath a plant pot or above the ledge on the door? Do you have high walls and hedges, which could give burglars protection from being seen?
Also, consider the noise factor, is accessing your house noisy for a burglar? For example, is there gravel around the property? Are there any ladders lying around that a burglar could use? Is the shed or garage always kept locked with high-quality padlocks and security locks? All of these factors can make a big difference in deterring burglars.
Now, let’s talk about some of the things burglars look out for when they scope out a property. They’ll look for weaknesses in your security, such as doors with a single cylinder or Yale lock, or a lack of window locks. They’ll also consider whether or not their access route is overlooked. Ex-burglars interviewed said they would look for high hedges and anything else that would protect them from a neighbour’s line of sight.
Ex-burglars surveyed by a national homeowners’ audit implied that they were most likely to target detached houses due to ease of access. Terraced houses, on the other hand, are trickier due to potentially more people being around and the difficulty in making a quick escape out the back if the burglar has to navigate lots of fences.
If a burglar has chosen a property to target, they will often scope it out for two or three days, according to ‘those in the know’ (wink, wink). They might go through your rubbish for a name on your mail, search online to find a landline phone number and call to see whether you’re in, or check your social media or online presence. Opportunists, however, can visit a promising neighbourhood and break in the same day.
So, what can you do to protect your home? One survey showed that the top five things that put burglars off were a burglar alarm system, a dog in the home, people in the property, CCTV, and outdoor/sensor lights. Installing a visible burglar alarm is a good idea, but if you can’t afford a full alarm system, you can get fake burglar alarm boxes instead. They cost around £15 to £20 and may still deter some burglars.
When fitting a lock to a window or door, use the strongest screws you can, not necessarily the ones supplied, and make sure they are all to British Standard BS7950. Retrofitting UPVC and PVCU doors or windows with locks could weaken them or invalidate warranties. Sufficient locks fitted at the time of construction are safer. If you want to change the locks on your current doors, you can find a recommended local locksmith by using lock smith facility. In addition, make sure your home looks occupied at all times, consider using lights on timers and don’t forget to lock your doors and windows, even if you’re only leaving your home for a few minutes.
In summary, don’t make it easy for burglars to target your home. Consider all possible entry points, and invest in some visible deterrents:
Windows can be vulnerable to break-ins, so it’s important to ensure they are secure. Make sure all windows have key-operated locks. You could also consider adding security film to your windows. This film is designed to prevent the glass from shattering when someone tries to break it, making it more difficult for burglars to gain entry.
Burglars don’t like to be seen, so having good lighting around your property can be a great deterrent. Motion-activated lights can be particularly effective, as they will turn on when someone approaches, making it clear that someone is watching. You can also consider installing timers for your lights, so they turn on and off at different times throughout the day, giving the impression that someone is home. This can be especially useful when you are away on holiday.
Alarms are a powerful deterrent. There are two main types of alarms, a standard bells-only alarm and a paid monitored alarm. The best option depends on personal preference, budget and protection needed. CCTV is becoming an increasingly popular way to deter thieves, usually these can have a live feed via the internet to your smart phone. Cameras range from a basic kit to a state of the art internet-streaming video camera with night vision.
Shed and garage security
Sheds and garages are often overlooked when it comes to home security, but they can be a treasure trove for burglars. Make sure all sheds and garages are locked with high-quality padlocks. You should also consider installing security lighting around these areas, and never leave tools or ladders lying around outside, as these can be used by burglars to gain entry to your property.
Good garden maintenance
Trim trees and shrubs: Overgrown trees and shrubs can provide cover for burglars to hide behind. Keep your landscaping well-maintained and trim back any trees or shrubs that could provide cover.
Social media is a great way to stay connected with friends and family, but it can also be a way for burglars to scope out potential targets. Avoid posting about your holiday plans or other times when you won’t be at home, as this can alert burglars that your house is empty. It’s also a good idea to check your privacy settings and make sure your posts are only visible to your friends and family, rather than the general public.
Get to know your neighbours
Be sociable and get to know your neighbours: neighbours can be an important source of information and can help keep an eye on your home while you are away. You could join a ‘Neighbourhood Watch Scheme’ or simply get to know your neighbours and exchange contact information. In return you can visually house sit their property for them.
Living in an undesirable estate?
Living in a poor residential area can be a challenging experience. These areas are often characterised by limited access to basic amenities such as healthcare facilities, quality education, and adequate housing. Individuals living in these neighbourhoods may also face high levels of crime and unemployment. With this in mind, burglary may likely to be higher than in an affluent area. If you feel trapped and cannot sell your house you could always try a quick sales property company to be able to relocate your home.
Burglar marking kits
Buy a property marking kit and mark the valuable contents of your home. Once you have marked a belonging or precious item, you can be register them on immobilise.com. Immobilise is a free database of possession ownership details, this is used by the police to return recovered items to their rightful owners. As jewellery cannot be marked, take photographs so you have visual images in case of theft.
There are many things you can do to make your home more secure and reduce the risk of burglary. By taking a few simple steps, you can make your home a less appealing target for uninvited guests. Remember, the key is to make your home look occupied at all times, even when you are away. By following these tips, you can help to keep your home and your family safe and secure.