Keeping your home, family, property and person safe is a priority for anyone, but are you doing enough to ensure your security is a deterrent to prevent burglary?
While it’s impossible to guarantee the security of any property there are a number of reasonable and inexpensive steps you can take to ensure your home isn’t the next to be added to the local crime statistics. Some are obvious, such as keeping doors and windows locked, some are less immediately apparent, such as keeping your hedges and fences in good order, so let’s take a look at your house from the point of view of a burglar to see what they see, and what can be done about it.
Despite common misconception, most break-ins take place in daylight and last for between 5 and 10 minutes. Burglars will be drawn to high value items which can be easily sold on, most especially things which can be easily carried, such as jewellery, cash, phones, laptops, and the like. If anyone passing can see into your home, that doors and windows aren’t secure or are old and worn, then they may be tempted to break in and take what they want.
Not only are new windows and doors good at keeping the cold out and the warmth in, they do exactly the same with burglars, keeping them out and your property in. Burglars want to be able to get in quickly, and without drawing attention, so if your windows and doors present a serious obstacle, they won’t be so interested in your house.
Windows and doors add a nice aspect to the frontage, and that theme carries over to the garden. If your garden, hedges, fences etc are well maintained this tends to put burglars off too. Broken fences add to a look of dilapidation which can be tempting, because if you don’t tend to them, you may not tend to other aspects of home security either, or so the criminal thinks. The same can be said for hedges, however, these offer a double bonus of giving them somewhere to hide while they keep an eye on your home, concealing them from you and your neighbours, they also give them a place to stash your property if they have to leave in a hurry.
Bushes and trees around the house itself offer great nooks and crannies where they can hide themselves too. If you can, cut off lower branches of trees to a height of 5 feet as this gives clear visibility from your windows and to passers-by. Conversely, keeping shrubbery well below five feet takes away many potential hiding places.
Alongside passive security measures, such as a tidy garden and strong windows, an active, visible deterrent works wonders too. Because most break-ins happen during the day and are over very quickly, security lighting alone isn’t as effective a deterrent as many might think. However, the advent of small, inexpensive wireless security CCTV cameras means you can install an array of devices which not only record but allow you to speak directly to anyone on your property from anywhere with internet or mobile phone reception. Fit them where they can cover the doors, windows, front gate, out-buildings and sheds and anybody with a will to break in and steal from you will be give cause to think twice and move on.
That’s not to say that security lights aren’t effective, only that they have their niche in your home security arrangements. As do audible alarms, sensors and the like. On their own they have a known effect, but use them in concert with one another and you up our protection considerably.
For example, smart home systems are becoming ever more ubiquitous in homes throughout the land, and using them for security is one of the ways you can get this latest technology to help pay for itself. Smart home automation allows you to synchronise security lights, cameras, alarms, and two way audio in such a way that if anyone breaks into your home lights come on, alarms sound, video is taken and stored off site, and you can talk to the intruder, and hear what they’re saying. This can be a great benefit in securing a conviction if the burglars happen to use one another’s names during a break in, but they were wise enough to cover their faces.
Smart automation also makes ‘leaving a light on so people think you’re in’ far more effective. Instead of just leaving a light burning you can program lights to come on and go off in sequences so it seems as if people are moving around the house. TVs can come on and go off, and, equally importantly lights can be set to go on indoors as well as out if motion sensors trigger your CCTV cameras, giving the impression that not only is someone in, but you’ve been woken up and are getting ready to meet them. And should they come to your door and press the bell, there’s still no reason why they shouldn’t think someone is home as you can easily talk to them from anywhere via your access control monitor or intercom.
Stop Them On The Door
Access control is a great way to prevent distraction burglary too. Distraction burglary is when a criminal masquerades as a roofer, plumber, gas engineer or market researcher who needs to come in to check things are alright or ask a few questions. Once in they’ll ask for a drink or send an accomplice to do something while they keep you busy, so you can’t keep an eye on them at all times. Access controls let you ask and answer questions without opening the door, lets you see their accreditation, and gives you a chance to call their supposed employer to see if the are scheduled to be in your area. If they get annoyed or impatient then you know they’re not to be trusted as a genuine employee would be more than happy to wait for as long as it takes for you to verify their reasons for visiting.
Mark Your Property
In the unfortunate event that you are burgled, hopefully you won’t especially if you’re careful, what can you do to make the criminal’s life harder?
Once your burglar has broken in they have a limited amount of time to collect as much as they can and get out. They’re counting on having attracted someone’s attention and want to be out before the police arrive. This means gathering up only what’s on show. It’s a faff, but try and remember to put laptops and tablets in a drawer when you’re not using them. It’s convenient to have them out and on standby, but that can be the worst thing to do! (which is why you should always set your security settings to lock the computer when it goes to sleep, especially if you have codes, log-ins and passwords saved on it.) A locked drawer is best, but any draw will keep them out of sight when a burglar is peering in through the window.
Keep serial numbers of electronics filed away safely. Burglars are looking for valuables, not paperwork, but when your computer turns up in a shop or as part of a police operation, the serial number connects your property to the crime and means you will eventually get it back.
Take photos of jewellery and unique items for the same reason, along with a detailed description, including designer, maker and year of manufacture. Again, if they come up for sale or are discovered by police these details make it much more likely you’ll be reunited instead of them going to a police auction.
Mark your ceramics, tools you keep in the shed, and other items with a permanent UV pen, this seems old fashioned, but it doesn’t affect the value of your property will help you get things back, and a conviction is more likely if there is evidence your goods were stolen.
Finally, get a dog. They are an outstanding burglary deterrent, not because burglars fear getting bitten, but the amount of noise they make and the trouble they cause is far and away more bothersome than the rewards the burglar expects for breaking into your home. Even a small yappy dog will be so annoying and draw so much attention that any half decent burglar will walk straight past your house and on to the next.