The good news is that UK burglary rates have dropped by 69% since the mid-1990s*. However two in every hundred households still suffered a break-in last year – and it is an experience many of us fear. Here are some recommendations from experts to reduce the risk of burglary:
Secure windows and doors - Ensure the physical security of your home. Make sure all your windows and external doors have strong locks. Which? recommends that all accessible doors and windows are double-glazed** and reminds us: “Windows with key-operated locks on show may put burglars off, but remember to hide the keys out of sight and somewhere the burglar can't reach if the glass is broken.” Also, doors and window locks clearly only work if these potential points of entry are shut securely each time you leave the house.
Keep valuables out of sight - Having TVs, computers and other items of high value visible to passers-by increases the risk of break-in. Don’t forget to keep wallets, car and house keys out of sight, too. Burglars may hook keys through a letterbox and then let themselves in.
Consider an alarm - “Alarms are undoubtedly the most effective deterrent against burglary,” says the Metropolitan Police advice on burglary prevention (see link below). Burglars don’t want to be seen or heard so setting off an alarm and attracting attention will disturb them. If you choose to fit an alarm, the Met recommends getting it installed by a company listed with either the National Security Inspectorate or Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board.
Use lights as a deterrent - Lights can be used in a number of ways to deter burglars at night. Motion-triggered lighting will make it hard for burglars to break in undetected. Also, if you’re coming home after dark, leaving a couple of lights on will help your home appear occupied. Don’t restrict it to the hall light, however, as that can actually signal the fact you’re not home to savvy burglars. Lights on timer switches work well to give the impression that someone is home if you’re away for more than an evening.
Secure your boundaries - Keep front boundaries (such as fences or hedges) low. The Met says: “Make sure your front wall is no more than 1 metre (3.2ft) high, so a burglar could be seen from the street.” Other suggestions include keeping wheelie bins where they can’t be used as climbing aids; gravel on the driveway or path to make a quiet approach more difficult; and having rear or side boundaries of between 1.8 and 2 metres (around 6ft) tall. The Met also suggests spiky plants along boundaries as a deterrent.
Don’t forget the garden - “Thieves are attracted to garden sheds because they contain many everyday, unmarked items that are easy to sell, and they’re often left unlocked or unsecured,” says the Met. Locking the shed and not leaving tools, equipment and bikes outside will help lower your risk.
Mark your items - Increase your chance of recovering valuable items in the event they are stolen by registering them for free at www.immobilise.com
Ask an expert - Many security firms will offer a free, no obligation security survey. The aim is to highlight any ways that a property may be vulnerable, and what is needed to make it even safer.
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