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If you have ever experienced burglary you will know how horrible it is. Returning home and discovering that it has been ransacked and your valuables stolen prompts anxiety, insecurity and even depression. But there are many basic home security failings and mistakes which we are all guilty of.
The latest government crime survey tells us that 3 out of 5 burglaries are successful, resulting in losses averaging around £3200 and in 58% of cases, someone was at home when intruders entered the building. Another survey has shown that if your home has been burgled it’s more than five times more likely that you will be burgled again within the next year. And the chances of the perpetrators being captured is very low indeed at around only 3%.
The bottom line here is that it’s best not to become a crime victim in the first place. To achieve this aim it is useful to be highly aware of the most common home security failings.
Letting would-be thieves know that there are valuable, sellable items inside your home will act as an enticement to steal. The rubbish you leave outside your home provides many indications of what’s inside. For example, if you have taken delivery of new electronic items such as televisions, computers, tablets etc. then leaving the packaging outside for all to see can attract the wrong sort of attention. Similarly, be aware of what you are putting in your rubbish bag as receipts, repair bills and other disposed documentation can provide a thief with a clear indication of valuables you own.
Items that can be seen through your windows will also potentially attract the attention of burglars. While it can be difficult to conceal a massive 60 inch television it makes sense not to leave portable items such as computers or jewellery in locations where they can easily be seen. If possible, valuables should be securely stored away in locked cabinets or cupboards where they can’t be seen or easily accessed.
Valuable assets left outdoors can be particularly attractive to opportunist thieves who might look over a garden fence or wall seeking easy-to-grab swag. Motorbikes, bicycles, wheelie bins and garden tools such as lawn-mowers are commonly stolen. It’s always a good idea to lock such items away in a garage, shed or storage container that’s secured with a tough lock. By layering additional security precautions such as chaining the valuable item to an immovable anchor point inside the garage, using a high security chain and padlock, even the most determined thieves will be frustrated and delayed.
High security fencing, gates and hedges can be very effective in preventing people seeing into your garden and providing privacy. But the measures that provide you with privacy can also offer cover and concealment to would-be home intruders. A burglar can potentially take their time to gain access to your home, safe in the knowledge that passers-by can’t see what they are up to as they overcome your window or door security.
Careful consideration of perimeter security and privacy measures should help ensure that you get the privacy you desire whilst not offering concealed areas from which home intruders can mount their attack. Since most criminals gain access to properties via doorways, always ensure that these areas are well lit and highly visible.
The age-old practice of hiding a spare key somewhere outside is well known by burglars and they know all of the typical hiding places such as under nearby plant pots or under the welcome mat. Fake rocks may seem like a good idea but most burglars will quickly spot a rock that doesn’t look right and will know immediately that this is where you have stashed your key.
The best solution is never to leave a key outside your home. If you are concerned that you might lose your house key and you really need to store a spare somewhere then talk to one of your neighbours and leave a spare key with them, ensuring that it is securely locked away inside their home.
Social media is wonderful for staying in touch and sharing experiences with friends and family. But social media is used by a lot of criminals to gain intelligence, telling them when someone is away from home and when they are likely to return.
While it may be almost irresistible to tell everyone that you are having a great time on your holidays, resist the temptation and save it all until you return home. Keep in mind that unless you have rigorously locked down the security settings on most social media platforms your posts will be public.
When publishing posts on social media it’s always worthwhile ensuring that your post settings are set to private, restricting visibility to friends and family only.
Another signal that tells criminals that a homeowner is away is a build up of mail and deliveries. If a criminal sees a big heap of unopened mail, circulars and newspapers in the porch of a property they will know that nobody has been home for some time.
While you can possibly get your mail deliveries stopped for the period you are away it’s more effective to have a neighbour or friend pop round to your house to tidy away the mail and check that all is secure every couple of days.
We’ve all done it. We’ve gone out for the day and left a window open or the garage door unlocked. Most burglaries in the UK gain entry via unlocked windows and doors so this is a vulnerability that warrants focused attention.
Establish routines when leaving home to check and double-check all doors and windows. Pay particular attention to outdoor buildings such as sheds and garages, making certain that all entrance points are securely fastened. And remember never to leave garages and sheds unlocked at night.
Providing criminals with the means to reach your upstairs windows by leaving ladders or other platforms outdoors is an obvious mistake. Most burglars don’t go out equipped with ladders so don’t make life easy for them by providing one. Also, always make certain your upstairs windows are securely locked when you’re not at home.
Ideally, ladders and support platforms should be securely locked away in a garage or shed. But if you are forced to leave such items outdoors always conceal them and securely lock them in place using security chains and locks.
As noted, most burglars gain access via doorways and windows. Experienced house-breakers can overcome most standard door and window locks quickly and easily.
Beefing up window and door security by installing high quality locks, window security bars and door bars will frustrate and delay would-be intruders, causing most to abandon their attempt to gain access.
If you take a moment to add up the value of everything you store in your garage, shed or outbuildings you are likely to be surprised. The cost of replacing lawn mowers, garden tools, workshop tools and garden furniture can be enormous. And if you have failed to secure these items adequately then you may not be able to make a valid insurance claim when they are stolen.
Sheds, garages and outbuildings offer burglars potential opportunities as they can often gain access to these buildings far more easily than the house. What’s more, if the shed or garage is even just a short distance from the main house then they can break in without alerting the home-owner. The high value of re-sellable items stored in outbuildings along with relatively easy access makes sheds, garages and outbuildings favourite targets for criminals.
As previously recommended, always make certain that you lock all outbuildings at night time and when not in use. Also, as for the doors and windows on the main house, invest in the very best locks, window security bars and door security bars to make sure that gaining access will not be easy.
An important aspect of effective home security is to be constantly aware of vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Knowing where the weak points are in your home security setup enables you to
It’s worthwhile routinely reviewing all aspects of your home security from the locks you are using through to the procedure you follow when leaving your home. It’s easy for good habits to fall by the wayside, resulting in security weaknesses which can leave you vulnerable to attack.
While this article has been written primarily for homeowners in the UK, much of it will apply equally to homes outside of the UK.
If you have any questions or concerns about any aspects of home security we are here to help. Give us a call on 01273 475500 and we’ll give you some free, expert advice.
This message was added on Thursday 31st October 2019
Need Help or Advice?
Call the Insight team
01273 475 500