Everything you need to know about keeping your home safe
Although property crime peaked back in the 1990’s, it still accounted for 70% of all police recorded crime in 2014/2015, meaning home security is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. Ensuring that the property you live in has enough security measures in place to safeguard yourself, your family and your possessions is an extremely important part of home-ownership – it’s a responsibility we should all take seriously, whether we own the property we’re living in or not.
Imagine working hard to afford your home and all the things in it, then having your most prized possessions stolen while you were out or asleep by someone who believes they can simply take what they want. This can not only leave you seriously out of pocket, but may also cause you and members of your family psychological distress. Doing what you can to put off potential burglars can make a big difference to your likelihood of becoming a victim. This home security guide from the experts at Evander has been put together to help you identify the most vulnerable areas of your home, and what you can do about it.
Your external doors are the gateways to your home and provide the easiest method of entry for potential burglars. In fact, you’d be surprised at just how many homes suffer a break-in where the intruder has simply walked through an unlocked door. Locking your home before you go out or if you’re spending time in the garden is a basic precaution that seems obvious at first thought, but many homeowners – especially those in rural areas – may not feel the need to do this every time they leave the house. A modern external door will have plenty of security features built-in, so if your door has seen better days, or if it’s many years old, you may not have the same level of protection that others have – and some thieves will know exactly what to look for.
Front & Back Door Security
Your external doors should be your first focus when it comes to home security, although if you have glaring issues with any other aspect of your home which could compromise the property, it’s important to get this sorted first and foremost. As a leading UK home-improvement company, our composite door and uPVC door ranges are designed with security in mind. Below is a list front and back door features you should look out for.
- Door Glazing – Any glazing incorporated within your door design should be double-glazed and laminated to ensure safety and strength, not to mention the benefits it can bring to your home’s energy efficiency.
- Additional Locks – Sometimes it can be prudent to add some extra locks to your door in order to enhance the overall security, particularly if you know thieves are operating in your area. Additional locks can be easily fitted and will prevent your door from being opened should someone succeed in picking, bumping or slipping the main lock itself.
- Door Chains – Adding a chain can help to secure the door even when the locks aren’t being used. A chain allows the door to be opened a small amount, so that you can check on who is knocking on the door before you open it. A chain can also help with security if you’re in the home with the doors unlocked – an intruder would not be able to gain entry if a chain is present.
- Birmingham/London Bars – To reinforce the frames so that the door is being secured properly by the lock, Birmingham or London bars are used. They strengthen the area around the lock, making it extremely difficult for your door to be kicked open.
- Door Panel Strength – The door panel itself should be constructed from a durable material which can withstand moderate force. Older wooden doors may not have the integrity of other materials, particularly if the timber hasn’t been treated often enough or at all.
Patio Door Security
Your patio doors, whether they’re sliding, BiFold or French in style, should be kept as secure as possible, primarily because they’re usually situated at the rear of the home, which could be a more sheltered and private location. Because there are many patio door styles available, it is important to make sure that they are fully secure, as look for a way into the home which is protected from the prying eyes of your neighbours.
- French Door Security – The Patlock is an innovative new product which is exclusive to French doors, giving you an extra level of security. It sits over the handles on the inside; securing them in position and ensuring entry cannot be gained even if the lock has been compromised. We’d recommend using a Patlock on your French doors, especially if homes in your area have been targeted.
- Sliding Door Security – Older sliding doors which have not been updated for a number of years may have some design flaws which can be taken advantage of. Some very old sliding doors can be lifted from their runners, so if you don’t have the means to replace an inadequate sliding door set, then some additional locks may be wise.
- BiFold Door Security – As a relatively new product on the market, BiFold doors are manufactured and fitted to a high specification already and will have plenty of security features built in. To enhance the security of your BiFold doors, you may want to look into getting blinds so that your belongings are not on view, as well as opting for additional deadbolts at the top and bottom of the door if these do not come included.
Garage Door Security
Your garage is where your car is kept when not in use, or perhaps you use it as a storage room, a workshop or a home gym. Whatever your garage space is used for, it’s likely that you’ll want to keep it secure to avoid having your belongings stolen. If your garage is attached to your main home and has access into the house, it’s also of utmost importance to ensure thieves cannot use this as a way of entering your property.
- Garage Door Defenders – A garage door defender is an additional security feature for up & over garage doors. The base attaches to the ground outside your garage and, using a heavy-duty metal bar and the wonder of physics, prevents the door from being opened even when the main garage door lock is compromised.
- Garage Door Indicators – If you are worried about your garage being broken into while you’re at home, a garage door indicator could let you know easily whether your garage door is currently open or closed. For when you’re asleep, there is an alarm function which will sound when your garage door is opened; notifying you that someone may have got into your garage without you having to go outside to see.
- Garage Door Panel Security – The overall security of your garage door relies not just on the locking mechanism, but on the strength and integrity of the door panel itself. Any modern garage door from Evander will be robust and secure, but older doors – particularly ones made of timber which have not been looked after – may not have such a decent level of security. Check how well your garage door fits into the entranceway and if there are gaps, or if the door panel is rusted, dented or broken in any way, it may be time to look for a new garage door.
Your windows are another hugely important area where getting the right security level is paramount. If they cannot enter through a doorway, thieves will target the windows next – particularly ground floor ones which are left unsecured. Of course, entering through a window is likely to arouse more suspicion from any neighbours than gaining access through a door, so an intruder is only likely to use this method if they are confident that they’ll succeed first time.
General Window Security
Your windows – particularly ones on the ground floor – are vulnerable to being taken advantage of by potential intruders. If they know they cannot get in through a door, then a window is likely to be their next target. At Evander we have developed a range of robust windows to ensure your home is as secure as possible. Below are some general window security pointers about the things you need to consider regarding window safety.
- Glazing Security – If your windows are single-glazed, then you may find that your home is difficult to heat. Keeping warm could be the least of your worries however, as single glazed glass can be very easily broken, allowing thieves to gain entry to your home. It’s beneficial for your security and your home’s energy efficiency to have double-glazing fitted to as many windows as possible. If you can’t afford to replace all of your windows at once, it’s prudent to start with the downstairs windows first.
- Frame Security – Window frames can be made from wood, uPVC or aluminium and each of these materials has its strengths. New windows from Evander with any frame type will provide a high level of security for your home. However, windows which are rather old – particularly ones with frames made from timber – may not be strong enough to withstand force. Check your window frames for rotting wood, dents, warping and a peeling finish. Repairs are often just as good as a replacement, so it’s worth checking if this is a possibility for your particular window issues.
Casement Window Security
Casement windows are the most common type of window in the UK, with most examples being constructed from uPVC. Casement windows can come in a variety of configurations, but usually have one or more sections which open, with other sections being static.
- Additional Casement Window Locks – Any window which opens outwards can enjoy enhanced security with a snaplock. When the window is closed, the lock automatically snaps into place so that you don’t have to worry about forgetting to lock your windows. For casement windows which are aluminium-framed, an additional lock can be bought which secures the frame to the opening part of the window.
Sash Window Security
Sash windows are a very traditional window design, and one which you are most likely to find on older properties. Some newer homes have sash windows, but these are likely to be much more secure and efficient than older versions.
- Sash Blockers – In order to secure sash windows, a simple device can be used which uses simple physics in order to ensure the window stays closed. A sash blocker simply prevents the window from being lifted and therefore opened from the outside and is extremely simple to fit to your window frame.
Your doors and windows, although inbuilt with various other security features, are really only as good as the locks which secure them. Without being able to lock the entrances to your home properly, you cannot effectively secure these areas properly. Many people think that the locks on their home are fine to use indefinitely, but new technologies and more advanced lock design has meant that some older locks – as well as some which are not even that old – can be overcome if you know where the weak design points are.
General Lock Security
Without decent locks, your home could be easily compromised by someone who knows what they are doing. No window or door in your home will be able to stop a thief if you haven’t locked them properly, which is why a basic level of security and lock maintenance is needed to ensure you’re not left vulnerable.
- Lock Maintenance – In order to keep your locks in the best condition, it’s important to ensure that the internal and external mechanisms are kept free from dirt, debris and grime, which can cause issues with the inner workings if not kept in check. Spraying WD-40 into the lock itself and around the handle a couple of times a year will help to keep the small inner parts oiled and working well.
- When To Call A Locksmith – If a lock has been compromised by an intruder, through accidental damage, vandalism or simply wear & tear, then it’s important to inform your home insurance company or a locksmith directly straight away. This will ensure your home is not left unsecured for any longer than it has to be. If you lose your keys then you may also want to change your locks for safety’s sake.
Euro Cylinder Lock Security – Avoid Lock Snapping!
If you need to lift up the handle of your front door in order to lock it, then it’s likely you’ve got a Euro cylinder lock. These often control a multi-point locking system and tend to work very well. However, if your lock has been in use since before 2008, then it may have a weak spot which can be taken advantage of by thieves.
- What Is Lock Snapping? – Lock snapping is where a euro cylinder lock can be broken on the inside simply by applying force to the small bit of lock that you can actually see. Giving the lock a hit with a crowbar or using a metal pipe to ‘shock’ the lock can cause the cylinder to snap where the locking mechanism moves, thus rendering it useless. Modern euro cylinder locks have an additional feature which still allows it to break, but in the wrong place along the cylinder itself, keeping your door locked and preventing the thief from gaining entry.
Fitting your property with intruder alarms can be a very effective deterrent, not only when the alarm has been set off, but also before any attempt has been made to get into the home. A property which is obviously alarmed (i.e. alarm box on display on the exterior of the property and perhaps a warning sign) is much less likely to be targeted. In fact, research conducted by Yale – who manufactures our excellent range of home security systems – found that a home without an alarm is 2-3 times more likely to be burgledcompared to a home which has one properly fitted.
- The Apartment Kit – When you live in a flat or apartment, you may not be able to mount alarm boxes on the outside of the building, perhaps due to not having the legal right to do so, or perhaps due to not being able to physically reach the outside wall. The Apartment Alarm does not act as a visual deterrent to potential intruders, but will sound an alarm which will alert neighbours and scare off the criminal.
- The Standard Kit – This nice and simple alarm kit is ideal for those who live in a terraced or semi-detached home and comes with door/window contacts and movement detectors, as well as a keypad to activate/disable the alarm.
- The Telecommunicating Kit – If you’d like to be notified when your alarm has been set off and you’re away from home, this alarm kit will call up to three pre-programmed phone numbers to alert you. This is ideal for those who have rural homes where there may not be neighbours to let you know.
- The SmartPhone Kit – This is our top of the range alarm, which comes with extra security options. The alarm will send an alert to your smartphone if the alarm is set off and will also send a picture to you so you can see what set it off. This can help you to decide the best course of action and provides evidence for the police should you need to involve them.
- Extra PIR Movement Detector – One extra movement detector to cover vulnerable areas, such as garages and extensions.
- PIR Pet-Friendly Movement Detector – Ensures the alarm will not be triggered by a pet that weighs less than 27kg (not suitable for multiple pet homes).
- Extra Door Contact – Activates the alarm when a door (or window, if you prefer) is opened while the alarm is set.
- Extra Remote Keypad – An extra keypad for homes with multiple in-use entrances.
- Remote Key Fob – This allows the user to activate or deactivate the alarm using a key fob rather than the keypad.
- Smoke Detector – Compatible smoke detector which will sound the alarm when triggered by smoke.
- Panic Button – The alarm sounds when the button is pressed. Can be mounted anywhere in the home.
SmartPhone Kit ONLY Alarm Accessories
- Extra PIR Image Camera – Extra camera which will send an image to the user’s SmartPhone upon alarm activation, allowing you to cover multiple angles.
- PIR Video Camera Upgrade – The video camera will capture 10-second video clips and send them to the user’s SmartPhone upon alarm activation.
- Power Switch Upgrade – Allows the user to remotely switch appliances on and off via their SmartPhone. This is particularly useful for turning on a lamp, for example, if your home is empty and it’s getting dark.
Top Security Tips
As well as making sure the various features of your home are up-to-date and provide adequate security for your home and family, it’s also important to consider other things you can do in order to keep your home as safe as possible. In many cases, these tend to be small things which will impact your life very minimally, but they can make a huge difference when it comes to the likelihood of you becoming a victim of property crime.
Keep Your Property Tidy
Intruders are often opportunistic, so it’s important to make your home look as unappealing to them as possible. A property which has not been looked after very well will pique the interest of a potential thief, as broken windows, run-down property features and tools/rubbish lying around can all show a general disdain for home security.
- Tidy Your Garden – Keeping your outdoor spaces tidy and ensuring any garden tools, ladders, boxes etc. are stowed away safely is something many people have slipped up with in the past, and intruders have actually used these items to break into the home. Do not tempt opportunists by leaving ladders and tools out for them to take advantage of, even in outside areas which are fenced.
- Padlock Your Shed – For those who have a shed in their garden, you should ensure that it is fully secured with a decent padlock and that the shed itself is made from strong a durable material. If you have a timber shed which is rotting or has broken panels, you may want to rectify this sooner rather than later to avoid thieves from taking advantage.
- Keep Gates & Fencing Secure – Burglars will try to enter your home in a way where they are least likely to be seen as possible. This is why many intrusions happen from the rear of the home where they are likely to be hidden by fencing and/or foliage. The more secure your outdoor space is, the least likely it is that this will occur.
- Make Sure Your Home Is In View – Having a completely sheltered home is great if you like your privacy, but being surrounded on all sides by fencing and foliage can have the opposite effect to what you were hoping to achieve. If an intruder can work on picking your locks whilst being completely hidden from view of your street, then your home could become a target.
- Outdoor Lighting – Outdoor sensor lights (which come on when someone gets close enough) are a good preventative measure and can discourage intruders from stepping onto your property. Their desire to be hidden from view means they are likely to avoid properties which would literally put them in the spotlight.
- Ask Your Neighbours For Help – If you’re going away or there won’t be anyone at home for a long time, it may be beneficial to ask your neighbours to keep an eye on your home. If you are away overnight, it may be prudent to have a trusted friend come in to put on a couple of small lamps and draw your curtains so that it looks as if someone is home.