A guide to home security

For many people, increasing their home security means fitting a burglar alarm. This can be a good deterrent, but there are many other precautions and devices that should also be considered to keep your family and possessions safe.

Most burglars will make themselves familiar with your routine before they try breaking in. Most burglaries take place during early-to-mid afternoon when the occupants of the house are at school or work. When you are on holiday, this is another opportunity.

Burglars always look for easy access, so will generally come in via doors or windows. They like to be in and out quickly, so anything obvious that could slow them down or attract attention – such as locks or alarms – is going to put them off.

Home security systems

A burglar alarm can be a powerful deterrent without even being set off. Just the sight of a ‘bell box’ on the outside of your property can be enough to ward off intruders, with many different types available.

Some boxes work with movement sensors, such as door and window contact detectors, and strobe lights for added effect.

A bell box is so effective that it’s even possible to just buy the casing if your budget doesn’t extend to a full alarm system. It all means the same to the burglar – they won’t want to risk setting anything off.

Some people may wish to invest in CCTV cameras, which could also prove a deterrent if spotted. Any footage recorded can then be passed on to the police. Like burglar alarms, dummy cameras can be bought and installed if required.

If you opt for real cameras, both wired and wireless options are available, with footage viewed on a TV, tablet or smartphone. Resolutions can vary, as can features, with some offering night vision and motion detectors.

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

But no matter how advanced or hi-tech your security system, never rely on this alone. These measures are more effective when teamed with other precautions.

Doors and windows

Think about the possible ways in and out of your house. Doors and windows are the most common points of entry, so fit the front door with a mortice lock that carries the British Standard kitemark – this is set within the body of the door, in a recess or mortice, rather than a version attached to the surface.

The police recommend a 5 lever mortice lock, also recognised by insurance companies, which will catch the locking bolt and prevent 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. 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.

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.

Other precautions

There are lots of measures you can take to protect your home from burglars. Gravel around your home, in the garden or driveway, for example, will make a noise if someone approaches your house, drawing unwanted attention.

Keep any hedges or trees trimmed back, so that your house can still be seen clearly from afar. Even planting thorny shrubs around your home could help.

Good quality gates and fences can also make it harder to get into your property, and try securing your garage or shed with padlocks and battery-operated alarms.

Don’t leave incentives lying around to increase the risk of a break-in either – personal information in your rubbish bins or recycling (packaging from new TVs, computers or mobile devices, for example) can hint at valuables inside your home or lead to identity theft. Don’t leave anything in the hall that might look tempting if spied through a letterbox.

Being part of or setting up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme is another good idea. A sticker in the window lets the burglar know that the community is vigilant and that neighbours may be on the look-out too.

Going on holiday

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.

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