Burglary is a terrible thing to go through, not only because of the material loss, but because of the way it affects your sense of safety in your own home. Those who have never experienced burglary may not feel as strongly about it as those who have. It’s difficult to know just how it’s going to affect you and your family until it happens, so by reducing your risk of being burgled you’re protecting yourself in more ways than you may realise.
In order to keep your family, home and belongings safe from intruders, it’s important to think like a burglar. If you were going to rob your home, how would you do it? What would make it more difficult for you? What would make it easy?
We’ve listed the most common things that burglars look out for below…how does your home measure up?
Any kind of flaw or weakness in a door or window pane can be seen as an easy target for thieves. A window which has already been weakened by a crack or a breakage is easy to remove, and could even tempt an opportunist thief by its presence alone. If you have a broken window in your home then it’s extremely important to have it fixed as soon as possible. This stops your home from looking vulnerable and means that it’s harder for burglars to force entry.
High fences & hedges
Surrounding your home with tall fencing and hedges can feel like the natural thing to do, especially if you live in close quarters with other households. Although this can give you a nice level of privacy, it can also shield potential intruders from other houses on your street. Try and keep your main entrance visible from the road as a minimum.
Tools/ladders left in the garden
Many people leave tools and ladders in their back garden without realising that an intruder could simply use these tools against them in order to gain access to their home. Even if the tools are kept in a shed, this can easily be broken into – it may not even have a lock on it at all. Make sure you keep all tools securely padlocked away.
Valuables on show
Leaving jewellery, laptops, mobile phones and other expensive things near to the windows – especially if you live in a house which is directly next to the street – is asking for trouble. Whether you’re at home or out and about, try to keep your valuables out of sight of the windows, particularly ground floor ones!
If you go away on holiday or you’ll be away for a full day or more, ask a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your home. Letters accumulating on the mat, milk bottles sitting on the doorstep and curtains which are always closed (or always open) can all give away the fact that nobody is home. Cancel any papers if you’ll be going away for longer than a day and perhaps invest in some light switch timers so that your lights come on in the evenings, making it look like someone is home.
If the surrounding area of your home is messy, perhaps with broken fencing or rubbish strewn about, then an opportunist thief may see it as a sign of complacency. If it doesn’t look like you have pride in your home, then it’s likely that you may not have full security features either. By keeping your home looking clean and tidy, you can convey a sense of pride in your home which may not be as attractive to burglars.
Spare keys left in an obvious place
Most of us have a spare key hidden somewhere, unfortunately many people have hidden their spare keys in the same old places as everyone else. Underneath the doormat, hidden under a rock or plant pot in the garden, or taped to the inside of the letter box – sometimes we make it far too easy for thieves. If you must leave a spare key around, try leaving it with a neighbour or invest in a secure box which needs a code to be opened.
No outside lighting
Intruders like homes where they can’t be seen, hence the point about tall fencing and hedges above. This also applies when it’s dark, so installing automatic lights to the front and back doors of your home is a wise move. Compared to other security features, they’re reasonably priced and easy to fit.
Having a pavement, flagstones or grass leading up to your home looks good, but it can allow intruders to move around without being noticed. Those with gravel paths or driveways will be able to hear when someone is on their way up to the property – something that thieves are keen to avoid.
No alarm system
If other houses on your street have security alarms fitted to their homes and you don’t, then this could make your house look more attractive to a burglar in comparison. In fact, a home without an alarm is 2 – 3 times more likely to be burgled than one which has an alarm system fitted. If you can’t afford a real alarm, you can buy ‘dummy boxes’ which make it look like your home is protected but which are actually just a plastic box.
Weak entry point locks
Having older locks on ground floor doors and windows can be a risk, especially now that ‘lock snapping’ is a common way for intruders to force entry to your home. Check each and every lock on your property to ensure that it works properly. If you have an older type of lock which can be overcome easily, it’s important to have this changed or to introduce some additional security features.