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How to keep your home secure

Your home is your castle, how secure is yours?

It’s a fact that criminals are most likely to break into your home through doors and windows.

And according to the police.uk, those with no proper home security in place are five times as likely to be burgled.

Domestic burglary remains a major problem, and there are still criminals out there willing to take a chance on breaking into your home.

So the tougher your security, the more likely you’ll deter them.

Here’s some of our top tips to keep your home safe and secure….

Lock your doors 

Latest statistics from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) show criminals enter through the door 70% of the time and through a window 30% of the time.

Always lock your house, both when you’re in and when you are going out.  Most front doors are fitted with a rim latch but as extra protection you should fit a five-lever mortise lock (Kitemarked BS 3621) or bolts to all outside doors.  Be sure they comply with your insurance company's requirements.

Most burglars get in through a back door, so make sure that this area of your house is well secured.

Glass panels on doors are vulnerable.  So if you do have glass in your door, replace it with laminated glass that’s harder to break.

And patio doors can be a particularly vulnerable area, get specialist advice on fitting locks. These types of doors should have special locks fitted top and bottom unless they already have a multi-locking system.

Remember hinges.  Weak or poor quality hinges are a security hazard just as is a weak or poor quality lock.  For added security fit hinge bolts. These are inexpensive and help to reinforce the hinge side of a door against the use of force.

When buying door cylinders always opt for ones that resist against 'bumping' or 'snapping' – these are well-known methods of attack used by burglars in break-ins.

Shut and lock your windows 

Open windows are an invitation to burglars.  Fit locks to all downstairs or easily accessible windows – it’s probably a requirement of your insurance

Secure gates and perimeter access

Most burglars get in through back doors or windows, so lock all gates or entries to the rear of your house.

Fit lights that come on at night to deter burglars and expose those otherwise dark areas.

Check for weak spots in perimeter access such as broken or weak fences and ensure all gates have high quality padlocks or locking bolts.

A spikey hedge along the boundary of your property can help to deter thieves.  Make sure that entrances and access can be clearly seen by passers-by and burglars can be exposed by security lights.

Keep garages and sheds locked up

Always lock sheds and outbuildings.  Keep ladders and tools properly stored and locked away – don’t leave them lying around for burglars to break into your home.  

And always lock up your bicycle inside and make sure the shed’s locked from the outside.

Toughen up your shed’s defenses by regularly checking the condition of hinges, hasps and padlocks, replacing them accordingly.

Use a high-performance key or combination padlock, look for ones supported by the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers.  But don’t go over the top on external security, the more locks you have, the more obvious it looks like there’s something inside worth stealing.

Hide away valuables

Never leave valuables on display and lock away any high value items like passports or jewellery in high security storage areas, home safes or bank vaults.

 Hide away car keys

Always hide car keys so they’re out of site and well away from your front door, letterbox or open windows.

Many burglars break into houses purely to get hold of car keys so that they can steal the homeowner’s car. Where possible always leave cars in locked garages overnight.

Insurance and marking belongings

Make sure you are well insured.

High value items may need to be insured separately or named specifically on your policy.

Mark belongings visibly and permanently with your postcode and house number.

Keep a list of your possessions and if possible photograph them. Keep a note of the make, model and serial number and keep any receipts.

Give copies of the list and photographs to someone you can trust.

Going on holiday

If you are going on holiday, don't make it obvious to strangers. If possible ask a trusted neighbour to be vigilant in your absence.

Try to make it look as though someone is at home, use timers to switch lights on at appropriate times. 

Don’t close your curtains during the daytime, this shows the house is empty.

Cancel milk and newspapers. Cut the lawn before you go.

Letters and papers building up can give burglars a sign that you are away. Royal Mail offers a ‘Keepsafe’ service where they hold on to your mail while you are away.

Avoid discussing holiday plans where strangers may hear details of your absence from home and don't announce holiday plans on social networking sites.

Spare Keys

Never leave a spare key in a convenient place.  If you need to leave spare key outside for ‘just in case’ access or emergencies, hide it in a secure ‘key safe’ at your property and change the combination code often.  Choose a key safe that’s approved to official standards.

New home

If you’ve moved into a new home, it’s advisable to change your locks. You don’t know if security has been compromised at some point in the past.  If you’re renting, then discuss this with your landlord or agent.

CCTV and alarms

Fit and use an alarm, it may be a requirement of your insurance company.

CCTV and webcams are a popular security choice today alongside specialised alarms that will call or text you if they go off.  

They can in some cases give you a remote live stream video of what’s going on at your property on your smart phone.  Although these are useful for catching criminals and may deter them, it won’t prevent them gaining access to your property in the first place or finding unsecured valuables.