It’s such a shame that we have to dampen this joyous time but last winter Halifax Home Insurance recorded an incredible 9,000 burglary claims, totalling £14.5million in value. The huge surge in burglaries is attributed to the increased cover of darkness which the coldest months of the year brings; opportunist burglars can advantage of unsecured homes during the increased hours of darkness, causing upset, stress and in many cases property damage for thousands of homeowners.
Keeping a home secure and protected against intruders is particularly important in the period November – February when there are fewer hours of daylight and a yearly upsurge in burglary crime statistics. Whether you are a tenant renting a private property or a homeowner who has just decided to sell a property online or rent a property on line, keeping the building safe and secure is an easy process when you follow these simple steps:
One of the most obvious ways in which to secure a property is to ensure that there are adequate locks on every door and window. Visible window and door locks, operated by keys only, can deter a burglar from attempting to break into a house, as it makes forced entry far more difficult. It is crucial that once the locks are installed, that they are actually kept locked during the night and whenever the house is empty; burglars don’t like to make things difficult for themselves, and an unlocked door is something of an invitation. Figures show that 4% of all burglaries occur because a burglar has entered through an unlocked entrance. Many homes have a spare key in case of emergencies, and the vast majority of them are stored in plant pots or doormats; the first place a burglar will look. Giving the spare key to a trusted neighbour or coming up with a hiding place that will not be immediately sussed out can prevent a burglar from simply letting themselves in.
For extra security, doors which lock from the inside can be fitted with additional bolts. If there are people working within the house, such as contractors or decorators, thoroughly checking all windows and doors once they’ve left it is important; someone may have cracked a window to allow paint fumes to disperse, and left it unlocked or ajar when they left. Rot should also be closely monitored; a wooden door frame which has succumbed to rot could easily be picked through by an intruder.
There are also measures which can be taken in the garden or yard area around a home. A property with high walls, railings and fences, or even trellis along the top of fences, can be enough to put off a burglar; these obstacles can make for a very obvious entrance, or a very slow getaway. Trees and bushes around a property can obscure the windows and make it difficult for burglars to see what’s inside; if they don’t know whether there is anything worth stealing, they are more unlikely to target a home. Homeowners are also advised not to prop bins, ladders or other items which could be scaled against the side of their property. It may seem relatively safe to leave a top-floor bathroom window slightly ajar, but if there is an easily-accessible ladder in the vicinity, it is just as inviting as an unlocked door. Sensor-triggered lights trained on all areas of the outside land can also assist in protecting a home; a burglar is much less likely to sneak around a garden if they know that they could be under a veritable spotlight at any moment.
Alarms are paramount when considering the security of a home, but it is important to remember that an alarm will only be of use once an intruder is inside; they will not prevent an intruder from actually getting inside, although they may be slightly put off at the sight of a flickering burglar alarm fitted to the front of the house in plain view. All wiring systems should be completely hidden from sight; burglars with a mind for technology will often know how to disable alarms if their wires or power source are exposed.
It is important to get into good habits with regards to burglar alarms, including setting them even when heading to the shops for five minutes, or picking the children up from school. Sometimes alarms can malfunction, and if a faulty alarm is constantly going off, it can result in neighbours ignoring it. Alert neighbours when an alarm has been repaired so that they know that if it is set off again, it is an emergency and not a fault.
If you don’t have an alarm installed and don’t have the budget to do so, most installers will fit a dummy bell box for a small fee. These can be placed at the front of the property and either wired into the mains or fitted with an LED light so that they flash as a regular alarm would.
Light and Sound
Other useful deterrents include ‘Beware Of The Dog’ signs, which might not be the complete truth, but will make a burglar think twice. Leaving lights or radios on when out of the house gives the impression that people are at home, and even something as simple as getting to know the neighbours and asking them to look out for your property can be crucial in preventing crime. Tenants going away or landlords with empty properties are also advised to use a light timer which gives the appearance of someone being at home without the expense of leaving lights blazing all day and night non-stop. They are approximately £12.99 and are easy to install. They can be pre-set to turn lights on periodically for a specified time period and will then switch them off again, helping to save on electricity costs.
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