Although having your home broken into is something many people fear, it is not a common occurrence. There are however many ways that you can help secure your home from intruders. They don’t all cost money – some are purely down to common sense and good housekeeping.
What’s the first area I should think about?
First think about the outer perimeter of the home, which may be the garden or alternatively a common close or stairwell. To find out more about securing your garden, outbuildings and communal areas, visit our advice on how to Keep your Garden & Outbuildings Secure and Keep Closes & Stairwells Secure.
What basic steps can I take to protect my home?
First, think about basic good housekeeping routines that aren’t expensive.
- Many thieves are actually opportunists who do not have to break in at allbecause a door or window has been left open or unlocked. Keep your home securely locked at all times.
- Don’t leave keys on the inside of door locks, under mats or anywhere else an intruder may easily find them.
- Don't put your name or room number on your keyring if you live in shared accommodation. If it is lost or stolen, the thief will have information that could direct them to your home and your property.
- Don’t keep house keys and car keys on the same key ring.
- Avoid keeping large amounts of cash in the house. If you must then disperse it in various locations.
- Security mark your property with a UV marker pen. You can use this pen to place an invisible imprint of your postcode and house number on your possessions.
- Record details of your valuables, such as mobile phone, cameras, laptops and tablets on the national mobile property register at www.immobilise.com. For further advice about protecting valuables and vehicles, visit our Keep Your Valuables Secure, Keep your Car Secure and Keep Your Bike Secure advice.
- Don’t leave valuables in sight of windows, particularly around the tree at Christmas time.
- If you have a wall calendar, avoid mounting it near a window from where appointments can potentially be seen – this may give an indication of when a property will be empty.
PC Stevie McGill from Edinburgh shows you how you can secure your home.
How strong should my doors and windows be?
You can improve home security by making simple adjustments. Front doors are the primary route of entry and exit into the house. However, windows are often used as either an entry or exit route for thieves. Properties with windows left open or unsecured are an easy target for the opportunist thief.
All single glazed windows on both the ground floor and other accessible areas can be vulnerable to attack, as plain glass is easily breakable. Consider replacing ordinary or toughened glass with laminated glass(two pieces of glass bonded together with a sheet of laminate). This is far more difficult to break through as it will not shatter and will therefore delay an attempt at forced entry.
Locking systems in double glazed windows should be fitted at the time of manufacture. A general rule to follow is that the handle should not be the only means of keeping the window closed. The locking system should be fitted within the framework and the handle used as a means of engaging the internal locking system.
- Doors should ideally be fitted with a 5 lever mortice deadlock to BS 3621 standard and the frame should be strong enough to support the door, hinges and lock. Consider fitting additional mortice bolts at the top and bottom of the door and if practical, hinge-bolts give additional resistance.
- External doors should be solid core and a minimum of 45 mm thick.
- New doors should be manufactured and installed to meet standards PAS 024:2012 or equivalent and glazed panels within or adjacent to the door should have laminated glass in at least the inner pane to standards P1A.
- Letter boxes should have an internal cover plate and not be at floor level. Mail should be allowed to drop down so that it can’t be retrieved from the outside.
- Consider fitting a door viewer and a door chain.
- Don’t leave keys in the door, as they can be turned or stolen through the letterbox.
- Consider having your door reinforced with a security door bar.
- Consult the manufacturer/supplier before attempting to fit any extra locks to double glazed windows or doors.
- Windows should have internal beading to avoid the glass being removed from the outside. Some systems which have external beading are secure because the glass is adhered to the frame or secured by special tamper-proof clips.
- New windows should be manufactured and installed to PAS 024:2012 or equivalent, which indicates set specific standards of design and security for windows.
For more information about security standards, visit www.securedbydesign.com.
What if I’m making home improvements or even carrying out routine maintenance?
Your property can be more vulnerable whilst you’re carrying out home improvements.
- Don't give keys to workers as they can make copies quickly and easily.
- Intruders may try to masquerade as bona fide workers. Let your neighbours know about work being carried out, where workers are likely to be and who they are.
- Scaffolding may allow an intruder access to high level areas they wouldn’t normally be able to access. Remember to lock windows.
- When planning home improvements, take crime prevention into account and use it as an opportunity to enhance your home’s security features. Find out more about how our Architectural Liaison services might be able to assist you.
What should I do when I go on holiday?
Go on holiday safe in the knowledge that you’ve taken some sensible steps to make sure your house doesn’t appear unattended while you’re away.
- Get to know your neighbours – if you’re on good terms with neighbours you trust then they might keep an eye on your home, draw curtains and remove mail from behind the door.
- Consider using Royal Mail’s ‘Keepsafe’ service – they will keep your mail for up to 66 days.
- Make sure you cancel any regular deliveries such as milk or newspapers.
- Use timers on lights and if you have an alarm then make sure it’s set.
- Don’t broadcast on social networking that you’re going on holiday – criminals can search for this kind of information to identify empty houses.
- Dial 101 and let the police know you’ll be away so that local officers are aware.
How can I protect myself and my property when I’m moving home?
- If you’re selling your home, don't show people around on your own. Ask your estate agent to send a representative to accompany anyone who wants to view the house. Opportunist thieves can use opportunities like this to steal your possessions.
- Never allow anyone into your home that has approached you directly from the street having seen your ‘For Sale’ sign. Tell them to go through the agent regardless of how urgently they want to view your property.
- When you move to a new property where other people, such as previous tenants, could still be in possession of keys, change the locks.
What help is available?
- Neighbourhood Watch operates in many local communities. Find out if a group exists in your area or about how to set a group up by speaking to your local community policing team by dialling 101.
- For general crime prevention advice and tips on how to keep your home secure, speak to your local community policing team by dialling 101.
- For more in depth advice about building crime prevention into your home, get more information about what our Architectural Liaison services can offer you.
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If you see signs of a break-in at your home, like a smashed window or an open door, then DON’T enter - the intruder may still be inside. Instead, go to a neighbour and call the police on 101 or, if you believe the intruder is still there, via 999.