Many of us worry about break-ins and burglaries. Not only is there the risk of financial loss and disruption, having someone invade your property can be very emotionally traumatic.
As such, keeping your home secure is essential for your own safety and peace of mind. Good security can also be a priority for potential buyers. So following on from one of our previous blog, read on:
Gardens, gates and fences
Keep any perimeter fences, walls or hedges in good condition and make sure there aren’t any gaps or weak spots which could prove handy access points for a thief.
Thorny hedges can be a good deterrent, as can gravel, which is noisy underfoot. Fixing trellis on the top of solid walls can make them more difficult to climb over. It’s not a good idea to use barbed wire, razor wire or broken glass since you could be held responsible for any injuries caused.
Garages and sheds
Garages and sheds pose a number of threats to home security. They often contain valuable tools and equipment and it’s easy to leave them unlocked. So, where a thief may not want to tackle your front door, nipping in and out of the shed could prove easy and lucrative.
Another problem with garages and sheds is that they can contain equipment which a burglar could use to break into your main property. Ladders are a prime example.
So it makes sense to fit sheds and garages with sturdy padlocks and to alarm them if necessary. Never leave outbuildings unlocked and take particular care if your garage has a connecting door to your home. Lock ladders inside your garage or shed and consider using lockable steel boxes for your tools.
Once you have taken care of these key areas, there are further measures you can take to reduce the risk of burglary, or to lessen the impact should the worst happen.
While some items are irreplaceable, getting good insurance cover for your property can reduce financial loss from burglary. Some companies offer reduced premiums for people with good home security.
Mark your property
Police recommend clearly marking your property. This can act as a deterrent, since it is harder for thieves to sell on. It also gives you a better chance of getting your property back if it gets stolen.
Rather than writing your full name and address, marking property with your postcode is a simple and effective way of identifying it. Since a number of people share the same postcode, do make sure you add your house or flat number. For example, if you live at 18 North Road, Barton, BT39 8TR, then you would simply put BT39 8TR 18.
Most items can be marked with permanent ink. Ceramic marker pens are available to mark china, glass, and other glazed surfaces. Etching and engraving are other options. If you are worried about affecting the value of your possessions, seek expert advice. You might consider using an ultraviolet marker pen for precious or delicate items, which won’t leave a visible mark.
Most burglaries happen when a property is empty so, when going away, try not to leave any obvious clues that you are not in. Cancel the milk and newspaper deliveries and use timer switches to turn on lights and radios in the evening. Remember to set these sensibly so they don’t use up too much electricity.
Another idea, especially if you’re away for an extended period, is to ask a friend or neighbour to pop by to pick up the post, draw the curtains, water the plants and generally prevent your home looking empty and neglected. You may be able to come to a reciprocal arrangement in which you ‘house sit’ when they are away.
Neighbours can be a great help when it comes to keeping an eye on your property. Similarly, if you notice anyone acting suspiciously in your neighbourhood, call the police.
There are over 150,000 official Neighbourhood Watch schemes in the UK. These bring people together in a joint effort to make communities safer, aiming to prevent crime through greater vigilance and to reduce undue fear of crime. They involve partnerships between the police, community safety departments of local authorities, local voluntary organisations, families and individuals.
In around 4% of burglaries, thieves use a false pretense to gain entry. Unfortunately, older people are particularly vulnerable to these ‘distraction burglars’, since they are often more trusting or easily confused.
The UK Home Office recommends a ‘Lock, Stop, Chain, Check’ method of preventing distraction burglary. Make sure your door is locked when you are in your house and don’t unlock it until you know who is on the other side. If someone comes to your door unexpectedly, stop and check that all your doors are locked. Check who is calling by looking out of a window or through a spy hole in your door. If you decide to open the door, consider using a chain or bar so that you can keep the door semi-secured while talking. If you don’t know the person, ask to check their identity card. If you are not sure about their ID, phone the relevant organisation to confirm the caller’ identity.
Remember – if in doubt, keep them out. You should be especially careful if you are on your own. Genuine callers won’t normally mind you being cautious, and you can always ask them to come back when someone else is around.
If all this talk of burglary has you cowering in a corner, you’ll be pleased to know that burglary rates in England and Wales have actually been dropping in recent years. The risk of being a victim of domestic burglary has halved since 1995. This is partly due to people being more vigilant over home security. Be safe, be sensible… but don’t have nightmares!