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A guide to securing your home

  • 20, Oct 2020
  • Read time: 16 mins

Home security is more than fitting a burglar alarm. While these are a good deterrent there are many other precautions and devices that should also be considered to help keep your property safe and secure. This guide goes into detail to provide you with all the latest options to make your home secure.

Home smart device.

Understanding your daily routines

Most burglars will make themselves familiar with your routine before they try breaking in.

What’s more, many burglaries take place during early-to-mid afternoon when the occupants of the house are at school or work. Another common opportunity is when you’re away on holiday.

Thieves look for easy access. They prefer to be in and out as quickly as possible. So devices that slow their progress or attract attention to them will also act as a deterrent to put them off.

Secure your doors

Think about the possible ways in and out of your house in terms of security. If you were a burglar – how would you gain access? If gaining access to your property is relatively easy for you, for example through an actual door, then you can assume it’s also easy for burglars.

Doors are one of the most obvious points of entry. That’s why doors need to house mortice locks that carry the British Standard Kitemark. These are set within the body of the door, in a recess or mortice (rather than a lock that is attached to the surface of the door).

The police recommend a 5-lever mortice lock for wooden doors and these are also recognised by insurers. This type of lock catches the locking bolt and prevents it from moving if someone attempts to pick it.

Burglars may try a side or back door instead, where they are less likely to be seen. You can fit door locks to these too, with a mortice lock on the back door and locking bolts at the top and bottom of patio doors.

Security lighting activated by sensors in these locations will also prove an effective deterrent at night. They are a relatively inexpensive solution that not only deters thieves, they can announce expected visitors and light your way home when it’s dark.

Securing doors using smart technology

Smart sensors placed on doors can detect approach or entry, using rises or drops in temperature, for instance when a door is opened. This sudden change in temperature can be communicated to your phone in seconds.

Smart technology talks to us and other smart appliances used throughout modern homes, linking TVs and computers, washing machines, refrigerators and even kettles. They can be programmed remotely and monitored through use of apps on your smart phone. The range of smart security is varied both in cost and application.

There are two types of smart security: those that activate systems remotely such as locking or unlocking doors and windows, and those which primarily serve as a notification device, alerting you to activity in and around your property. 

Here are some common devices in use today:

  • Smart door sensor – can sound an alert and send notifications to your phone when a door is opened
  • Smart lights – can be programmed to turn on when your home is empty or light automatically when they sense movement
  • Smart motion or heat detectors – these use infrared beams or temperature detectors to identify movement
  • Smart alarms – security systems that use wireless and network connectivity to speak to your mobile devices or smart TVs
  • Smart video camera – can be 100% wire-free for easy installation. These have a wide range of functionality, from capturing video and images, plus complete connectivity for alerts to mobile devices
  • Smart locks – able to identify, lock and unlock doors for authorised users only, such as tradespeople or friends and family.

Securing your windows

Windows should also have key-operated locks, ideally securing them in the frame rather than just the handle. Don’t forget about loft hatches or skylight windows either; and in the case of glass, laminated and double glazed is much harder for intruders to break quietly.

To make your glass windows safer, you could try one of these options for added security:

  • Window security film – prevents windows from being shattered during an attempted break-in
  • Smart water – Liquid applied to surfaces, valuable electronics or possessions that leave lasting marks on suspects to show up under ultraviolet light
  • Window bars – simple and efficient. Bars help prevent break-ins and restrict easy exit from certain points in the home
  • Glass break sensors - uses audio technology to detect the noise of glass being broken by unlawful entry.

What is a home security system?

Home security systems are an effective way of protecting your home from illegal entry. They use a central command system to control any number of sensors monitoring various entry points to your property connected to a central alarm system. There are several types of home security systems.

Electric current alarm:

  • Usually installed upon construction of a newly built property. A low-key alternative, the alarm beeps whenever certain doors or windows are opened, and they can be useful for keeping an eye on small children.

Monitored system:

  • Sends an alarm message to you, your security agency, or the police.

Unmonitored system:

  • Sets off an alarm to alert occupants or neighbours but doesn’t send alerts to the police or your security agency.

Set up a security system

There’s no doubt that security systems are a great way of securing your home, but should you install your security system or get the professionals in? Here are the pros and cons of both:

Professional installation:

  • Professional responsibility – your property will be assessed by professionals before and after installation
  • Getting the professionals in can mean higher installation fees and lower equipment fees
  • Can be better for larger homes with multiple security points that require a more complex set up.

DIY installation:

    • A less expensive option as you’ll only pay for the equipment you need
    • Suitable for smaller properties with fewer security issues
    • Many DIY systems are wire free and relatively easy to install
    • There’s no installation fee, of course, but you may pay more for your equipment
    • You’re not contractually obliged to a home security company and you can make any changes to your system yourself.

Install a home security camera

Home security cameras monitor your house at all times, alerting you to any approach or danger. Not only can they act as a deterrent and make your home secure, they can also provide assistance when you’re away from home and a visitor pops by to feed the cat or take the dog for a walk. Of course, they also store recorded footage that can be passed on to the police in the event of a security incident.

Home security cameras feature wired and wireless options and the footage can be viewed on smart devices such as TVs, tablets or smartphones.

Resolutions can vary, as will functionality, with some offering night vision in-built with motion detectors.

The more expensive models include heavy-duty casing, making them vandal proof to intruders.

Hide your valuables

There’s one very good reason to always keep your valuables hidden away in a safe place. Burglars prefer to work quickly. They know they have a limited timeframe to be in the property. So, they will search places that are most obvious, including drawers and cupboards.

If you don’t have a great home security system, the next thing you can do to keep your valuables safe is to create several safe spots to hide your high-value items.

Don’t create too many hiding places (you might forget where they are). Create two or three around your home for this purpose. Just remember that thieves usually look in living rooms and bedrooms.

So, if your safe hiding place is in the cleaning cupboard or in a purpose-built spot such as under a particular floor board, this will add yet another level of deterrent to your property.

Worst places to hide valuables

  • Under the mattress or bed
  • In the freezer
  • In a drawer such as a sock drawer
  • In vases or flower-pots
  • In toilet cisterns.

Best places to hide valuables 

  • The kitchen
  • Within a bookcase box
  • False pipes and vents
  • False wall sockets.

Keeping your keys safe 

Keeping your keys in a safe place at all times will prevent easy access to your home. It’s worth remembering that insurers will always look to see if any burglary was made easier by carelessness. This could include leaving your keys on a string behind the letterbox, or whether spare keys were left under a flowerpot or front door mat. These are the first places that thieves may look to gain entry.

Therefore, if you do have to leave a spare key for friends or family, consider nominating a trusted neighbour (this works both ways as they can also leave a spare set with you).

Setting up smart lighting

Smart lights are an excellent addition to any home security system. They detect motion within the property and will illuminate your property, especially when thieves prefer to work in the dark.

Smart lights can also be set to turn on and off at certain times, making thieves uncertain whether the property is occupied.

Internally, you can set them to mimic when your home is usually occupied, or they can be operated manually using an app on your phone. They can be linked to security cameras and can have in-built motion sensors to detect activity.

Externally, smart lights can be placed around your property to illuminate pathways and driveways, porch ways, gardens (both front and rear) in the form of lampposts or floodlights – there’s a wide range of choice.

Using smart plugs for table lamps, smart bulbs for hallways and porch ways, or exterior smart lighting to illuminate the front or rear of your property are great additions to any home security systems. Your home will be well lit, while hopefully, thieves will be left totally in the dark.

Secure your Wi-Fi network

Thieves can steal your personal information as easily as they can your jewellery, that’s why it’s important to secure your Wi-Fi network.

What’s more, thieves are using sophisticated technology to aid them in gaining access to personal information; the latest software tools that can run hundreds of passwords and username combinations with a simple click of the mouse.

To secure your Wi-Fi network remember these tips:

  • Keep your password unique and complex
  • If your router has a firewall, enable it
  • Change the name of your network to something unique
  • Carry out firmware updates on your router
  • Use encryption and be sure your network is set to WPA2 Personal.

Invest in a home safe

If you have high value items that are difficult to replace and have considerable emotional or financial value, investing in a safe is a wise decision. Check to ensure the safe you choose is water and fireproof. If your property suffers from flood or fire damage, your most valuable possessions should remain intact.

Advantages of a home safe:

  1. Difficult to remove from your property
  2. Not easy to gain entry to
  3. Difficult to find.

Places where you can hide your home safe:

  • Built into the framework of your home
  • Behind a bookshelf or heavy item of furniture
  • Under or within stairs
  • Disguised within existing cabinetry.

Safes can be secured to concrete flooring and therefore almost impossible to remove without creating a great deal of disturbance. Here are some tips for safe installation:

  • Never place your safe in the master bedroom. This is the first place thieves will look for valuables
  • Do not install safes in garages or hidden within outside buildings as these offer the lowest level of protection

Get rid of potential hiding places 

Cutting back or removing overgrown bushes and hedges in your garden is an important part of your home security system.

Ensure the approach to your property is well lit and free from obstacles that would prevent you from spotting unwanted activity on your property.

This clear field of vision will also provide smart sensors and home security cameras a clearer view in which to operate and detect intruders.

Securing your home while you are away

If the house is going to be unoccupied for any length of time, ask a friend or neighbour to pop round to remove any build-up of post, open and close curtains, and give the impression that somebody might be home. If your driveway is going to be empty, get them to park their car on it if possible.

Be sure to cancel milk and newspaper deliveries for the same reason, as any left out might show you are away.

Timed light fittings, which switch lights on and off at pre-programmed times to suggest that somebody is home, are also a great idea.

Feeling safe at home is a top priority for most. So, by implementing just some of the steps in this guide you’ll be well on your way to keeping your home secure and outsmarting pesky burglars.

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