As well as the material loss, having your personal space invaded by an outsider is a distressing experience, which can be avoided by following these quite simple security precautions…
If you can get into your house if you lose your keys, then so can a burglar. They know all about ‘secret’ hiding places for a spare set of keys such as under the doormat, in a flower-pot or behind a loose brick. Don’t hang a spare key inside the letterbox, as it is one of the first places they’ll look. Fitting a letterbox cage or other restrictor will prevent thieves putting their hands through the letterbox and trying the latches from the inside.
Consider if there’s any part of the house where a burglar can break in without being seen or heard. These vulnerable areas will require even greater reinforcement. Also remember that good lighting can put off or draw attention to the thief. A high efficiency low‐energy light comes on automatically at dusk and goes off at dawn.
Using laminated glass for accessible windows is a good idea as it’s much harder to break. Alternatively, use prominently visible window locks as it can put some thieves off. They’d have to make a great deal of noise when they break the glass and risk injury to themselves. Remember to lock windows before going out and to keep the keys out of sight.
Around two thirds of burglars enter the home through a door. Remember to lock the back door even if you’re in the house. When fitting a front or back door, make sure it is solid (at least 4in thick) and certified to British Standard 24‐1. Glass panels in the front door are a security risk; consider replacing the panel with laminated glass or sticking a special film onto the glass, which will do the same thing. Don’t forget that the hinges and door frames should also be sturdy and in good condition.
Using a rim latch will lock the door automatically when the door is closed but can be opened without a key from the inside. A five‐lever mortise deadlock (Kitemarked BS3621) is recommended for outside doors, as it requires a key to open it from the inside as well. It means that the thief cannot get in by breaking the glass panel next to the door or take things out of the house using that door. Fit a chain along with the lock and a door viewer on the door so that you don’t need to open the door if you’re unsure about the visitor.
If you move, change the locks of the front and back doors immediately as several other people may have keys that fit.
Inform the police if you see anyone acting suspiciously in your neighbourhood. A watch scheme is useful in helping prevent crime.
Keys near doors and windows
Thieves have been known to use a magnet or fishing rod stuck through a letterbox to steal keys left near the front door or a window. The keys of high value cars are likely to be stolen in this way, especially if the car is kept in the drive rather than in a garage. Keep keys in a safe and memorable place so that you can find them easily in an emergency.
Shared entrances make your front door even more vulnerable as someone may let a stranger into the building. Never hold the shared door open for someone who arrives just as you’re leaving.
There are many new and innovative ways that thieves use to get into your home, some of which include saying that they’re form the local council or a utility company. They may work alone or in pairs and can be male or female and of any age group, even some that are children. Make sure that you let in only those who have a prior appointment and remember that a popular tactic is for one to bring you to the front door while the other enters through the back.
By placing empty boxes of new and valuable equipment outside your home, you are providing thieves with information of what is worth stealing.
Garages and sheds
Burglars target garden sheds, as they’re often full of expensive tools that can be used for breaking into the main house. Fit a secure lock on any door connecting the garage to the main house as a thief can work on it without being seen. Ladders should be locked away or padlocked horizontally to a wall as they can be used to gain access to higher windows.
Going on holiday
Ensure that it doesn’t look like there’s no one at home. Don’t leave curtains closed during the day and don’t use time switches on the ground floor when the curtains have been left open. Cancel milk and newspaper deliveries. Cut the lawn just before you go. Don’t put your home address on luggage labels when travelling to your destination.