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Time to Review Your Physical Property Security

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When was the last time you reviewed the physical security around your home or business? Around 300,000 residential burglaries are committed every year and the 2021 Commercial Victimisation Survey (CVS) has estimated that 38% of business premises in the wholesale and retail sector in England and Wales have been the victim of crime between April 2020 and March 2021. In this post we highlight the need to regularly review the physical security precautions around your properties and provide a useful checklist.

Crime statistics tell us there are five burglaries for every thousand people in the UK, which means one person in every 200 will unfortunately become a crime victim. Around 2.35% of UK residential properties experience a burglary each year which equates to around one in every 43.

And 38% of commercial properties in the wholesale and retail sector, as noted, became crime victims during the year from 2020 into 2021. The most common crime they experienced was theft with shoplifting being most prevalent, but over 15% were due to burglary.

These crime statistics demonstrate why it`s essential to ensure all premises, both residential and commercial, are always as secure as possible.

Regularly Review Your Property Security Measures

The need to regularly review all aspects of property security, both at home and at work, is clear. You should look at your perimeter security, building security and what you are doing to minimise the risk of being targeted by criminals.

When conducting a security review it`s essential that no properties or areas are overlooked. It`s therefore worthwhile making lists of all the areas that should be examined from both your home and work environments to be certain you`re not leaving any out. These should include garages, outbuildings, warehouses, office spaces along with any unoccupied properties or land.

For each area you should examine the boundaries around the premises, such as walls, fences and hedges, looking for weaknesses and vulnerabilities. It can be useful to ‘think like a criminal’ to identify security weaknesses that might be exploited. Our `physical security checklist`, published below, provides a good starting point.

Using Layered Physical Security

When considering physical property security the layered approach is generally the most effective. But it must always be remembered that any security system is only ever as strong as its weakest element.

Historic, medieval castles are a good example of the layered approach to security and defence. Castles were built in exposed locations, often on steep hills that provide excellent visibility while presenting invaders with a significant uphill challenge. Wide moats along with robust castle gates, drawbridges and thick castle walls add further protection to keep intruders at bay.

Effective physical security today involves a similar layered approach, although digging moats around our homes and offices is generally out of the question. Perimeter walls, fences and boundaries need to be robust to deter intruders. Property entrances and gateways need to be secure and appropriately managed. External properties such as garages, sheds, warehouses and barns all need to have their own security measures. And residential properties along with commercial and office buildings need to be as secure as possible at all times.

A crucial aspect of layering physical security is recognising the assets that are being protected and ensuring they are as safe as possible. At home these assets are likely to include many sentimental items as well as valuables such as jewellery and vehicles. In office and commercial environments the assets might include the warehouse stock, computer systems and valuable business data.

Physical Security Checklist

To help you carry out your property security review we’ve compiled this list of questions that will help. If you answer ‘no’ to any of these questions then you should take appropriate action to remedy the identified weakness to boost security.

Perimeter Security

Ensure that all the perimeters around your properties are thoroughly examined.

  • Are all fences, walls, hedges and gates in a good state of repair?
  • Are all fences, walls, hedges and gates of adequate height?
  • Is anti climb protection installed around the perimeter?
  • Are posts and poles close to your boundary protected against climbers?
  • Are all items that could potentially be used to gain entry securely locked away at all times?
  • Is there a gravel driveway or path that can provide an intruder warning?
  • Is there exterior security lighting?
  • Is CCTV installed / used?

Outbuilding Security

As noted, it`s essential to consider the security status of all buildings including garages, storage containers, warehouses and sheds.

  • Are all outbuilding doors and windows securely locked at all times?
  • Are the doors and windows of all outbuildings robust and secure?
  • Are shed alarms or garage door alarms installed?
  • Are all valuable items inside garages, sheds and outbuildings always securely locked to immovable anchor points?

Building Security

Having reviewed the perimeter and exterior building security, pay particular attention to the security measures that will prevent intruders from gaining access to your building(s).

  • Are all doors and doorframes in a good state of repair (including main doors, rear doors, patio doors etc.)?
  • Are all windows and window frames in a good state of repair?
  • Do all doors have robust locks which are kept locked at all times?
  • Do all windows have window locks which are kept locked at all times?
  • Does the main door have a door security chain or door opening restrictor device?
  • Can external downpipes be used as a climbing aid to reach upper storey windows or the roof?
  • Is the door letterbox protected against arson and criminal access?
  • In shared environments (apartment buildings), are all communal doors always closed and secure?
  • Does the building have an alarm system?
  • Does the property look occupied when vacant?

Asset Protection

As noted, it`s vital to recognise risks and take adequate precautions to protect valuable assets.

  • Is all cash securely held at a bank or building society?
  • Are all vehicle keys securely locked out of sight?
  • Is valuable jewellery and other personal assets safely locked in a secure location?
  • Are valuable items marked or labelled to enable identification?

How to Boost Your Physical Security

Answering `no` to any of these checklist questions may indicate weaknesses in your current physical property security. You should review these weaknesses and take steps to resolve them before they are exploited by criminals.

If all boundaries are in a good state of repair can your property security be improved by installing anti climb protection? Fence and wall spikes, for example, present a strong visual deterrent that will discourage all but the most determined intruders. But spiked anti climb deterrents aren`t always appropriate which is why we developed our Roller Barrier anti climb system, which is totally non-aggressive and safe, making it the preferred anti climb solution for schools, public buildings, hospitals and young offender`s establishments.

And when examining your perimeter did you note any posts or poles that could be used to gain access? Spiked pole collars protect them from being used by climbers and prevent people from stealing or tampering with expensive pole mounted equipment, such as CCTV cameras and lighting.

anti climb pole spikes
Protect Poles with Anti Climb Pole Spikes

 

Another highly effective form of anti-climb protection is the application of anti-climb paint to walls and surfaces that intruders might attempt to use. it`s necessary to note that whenever anti climb protection is installed appropriate warning signage should always be put in place.

When reviewing the security of your outbuildings, garages, sheds, warehouses and storage facilities it`s important to remember that these buildings may often be unoccupied and are often remote from main buildings. They therefore present opportunities for criminals to gain access without raising an alarm. Wherever possible, door security should be strengthened and windows should be robustly protected. For example, up-and-over garage door security can be bolstered using a Sold Secure Garage Door Protector and window security is significantly improved by installing window security bars.

An aspect of outbuilding security that’s often overlooked is the need to ensure that valuable items are not only stored inside securely locked structures but also firmly attached to immovable anchor points inside the outbuildings. Professional thieves are known to track valuable motorcycles to their owner’s homes and ride-on mowers, quad bikes and other outdoor paraphernalia are valuable targets for thieves. Simply locking these expensive valuables inside garages or outbuildings isn’t enough to put them off. But if that valuable motorbike or ride-on mower is also securely attached to an immovable anchor inside the garage this will be enough to deter all but the most determined criminals.

big boy telescopic ground anchor
Big Boy Telescopic Ground Anchor Provides Robust Anchorage

 

When thinking about building security it`s essential to pay particular attention to all of the primary points of entry - the doors and windows. Around 67% of burglars gain access to properties directly via doors with 21% simply opening an unlocked door. Around 29% gain access via windows with around 10% taking advantage of an unlocked one.

These startling statistics highlight why it`s vitally important to pay special attention to doors and windows when reviewing and hardening building security. And a critical point to note is the need to not only review the security of ground level windows and doors but also upper storey windows.

External downpipes can be readily used by agile opportunist burglars to quickly reach upper storey windows. Climbing up drainpipes and downpipes is easily prevented by protecting them with robust steel anti-climb downpipe covers - which also protects pipework against vehicular damage and improve a building`s aesthetic appearance.

downpipe covers with roller barrier
Downpipe Covers with Roller Barrier Anti Climb Protection in a School

 

Another aspect of building security that can often be overlooked is the need to protect letterboxes. Adept thieves have been known to use letterboxes to reach inside to steal car keys which could be viewed via the letterbox. And arsonists are also known to use letterboxes to set fires which can cause a great deal of damage and risk. Anti arson mailboxes and letterboxes provide robust protection against both thieves and arsonists.

Taking steps to make unoccupied properties appear to be in use is a great way to deter break-ins. Lights can be controlled by timers to switch off and on, giving the impression there is someone at home. Similarly, radios and televisions can be switched on and off using timers. And mail should be either hidden or collected to ensure it doesn’t reveal that a property is vacant.

And when layering up security improvements it`s vitally important to recognise the specific assets that require protection. In the home these are likely to include things like jewellery, valuable vehicles and possibly sentimental items. But in commercial environments assets will include stock items, computers, office equipment and data. Wherever possible, assets should be marked and labelled as this will deter theft and help recover items if they are stolen.

If you have any questions about what you need to do to strengthen your physical property security or if you have any special requirements remember that we are here to help. Give us a call on 01273 475500 and we’ll provide free, expert advice.

This message was added on Thursday 28th April 2022

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