At this time of year there is usually a rise in the number of burglaries recorded. When people leave all their presents out under the tree it provides burglars with a ready source of gifts. Burglary is no longer just a random, opportunist crime; police are noting a trend to organised gangs who target specific areas, observing homes that will be likely targets then co-ordinating the robberies into single sweeps through streets and housing estates.
The police are aware of the tactics employed by criminals. They know what the thieves look for in terms of homes to target; which ones will offer them the easiest pickings. Thankfully, the police are keen to share this knowledge with us, and by applying some simple rules, we can all minimise the chances of being the victims of a robbery.
Firstly, make a habit of checking that all your ground floor windows and doors are closed and locked when you leave the home or go to bed. If you have uPVC doors, you must ensure the internal locking mechanism and security features are correctly enabled by lifting the handle all the way up, then turning the key. Make sure you take the key out of the lock. Keep it safe and in easy reach, but not close to doors or windows (keep reading to find out why). If you’re leaving your home unoccupied for a while, make sure any upstairs windows (if you have them) are locked as well.
Your front door is the main point of entry into your home. It should ideally be fitted with a five-lever mortice lock, but the lock itself is only going to be as good as the door and frame it’s mounted onto. A metal strip called a London Bar can be fitted to strengthen the construction of the doorframe.
All keys, including your car and padlock keys, should be kept out of sight, in safety, but must also be easily accessed in case of an emergency. You might have to create a special place in your home for this, or think about something you have that will be easy to store your keys in. Don’t leave them on window sills, counters or surfaces, and don’t leave them hanging on hooks near the door. Many criminals are now entering properties simply to locate car keys – often, they can find what they are looking for without even entering the house, simply by using improvised tools. Careful placement of your keys will keep them out of sight – and out of reach.
If you have a rear garden attached to your home, make sure any gates are firmly shut and locked. Also, make sure your garden tools are stored away out of sight – padlocked, if possible. Burglars improvise – don’t make it easy for them.
If you plan to be away from home for several days, try and arrange for a friend or family member to make regular visits while you are out. Better yet, find a neighbour who’ll be happy to help out – perhaps you can return them the favour next time they go away. Then you can make sure your post is collected, that the bins are put out on the correct day, and anything else is collected up from the doorstep.
Lighting can play an important part in reducing the chances of getting burgled. Internal lights make the place look occupied at night – although you need to make sure the light you use is clearly visible from outside when it’s dark. You can purchase special socket timers, allowing lamps to switch on at set intervals throughout the day. Dusk until dawn security lighting is especially useful outside your home, while lighting units with added heat and motion sensors will be especially beneficial for the rear of your property.
For maximum effectiveness, you can have a security alarm system installed. While not a cheap option, it is an excellent deterrent to burglars – all thieves hate alarms as noise is the biggest enemy of the burglar, and the thing most likely to get them caught. If you think you are in a high-risk area, this is by far the best option, but you’ll need to talk to a security systems specialist.
It goes without saying that none of us wants to be burgled, but prevention is the best method to ensure it doesn’t happen to you. Look around your home and think about the doors and windows, plus other access points around your property. If you think you’re especially vulnerable, get in touch with a local alarm installation company and arrange a quote. By using online directory services such as directorynow.co.uk, you can find alarm specialists and installers in your area.