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Ten tips to keep your home secure

By Virginia Ewart-James

CCTV is an increasingly popular security feature, both inside and outside our homes. Externally it can be an effective visual deterrent for opportunist thieves on the lookout for empty homes and a useful way of checking that all is well at home. if you have a system that allows you to view the footage remotely.

Alarm bells ring, are you listening?

A burglar alarm system can be the difference between some minor repairs to broken locks on doors and windows and a few snatched items, and a thoroughly professional clear-out job if intruders are given the time they need to find valuable items. If you have an alarm, don’t forget to set it and let a trusted neighbour know ir you are going to be away. If your trusted neighbour is also a keyholder make sure they know the code so they don’t trip the alarm themselves, or so they can reset the system in case of a false alarm. There’s nothing more annoying for people than an alarm ringing incessantly, and it’s also akin to the boy who cried wolf should it ever go off in earnest.

While neighbours watch their locks at night

Close-knit neighbourhoods look out for each other and also experience lower burglary rates. Agree with neighbours to keep an eye on each other’s properties especially if you are going away at any time of the year. Simple tactics like moving piles of unopened post away from the door, drawing curtains at night and putting the bins out/taking them in again make it look like business as usual. If your neighbours are away at the same time you could share the cost of a house-sitter or empty property management service. Reputable lettings and property management companies can often offer such a service, or at least refer someone who can.

All through the house.

A house is a lot less likely to be a target for a burglary if it looks occupied. If you are going away, leave a light on or fit timer switches for the lights to come on at different times in the day. Other devices like your radio or television may also have similar features, particularly if you have a smart or remote control system installed.

Make sure your windows are fitted with good secure locks. Some 40 percent of household burglaries are not through forced entry, meaning intruders have entered through an open door or window. Make sure deadbolts or mortice locks are applied, lockable internal doors are also secured, and remove keys that may reside in locks on the inside of the doors or windows while you are at home. Similarly, make sure that keys are kept away from and out of sight of doors and windows, to remove any temptation or opportunities for smash-happy burglars, or those that might employ a fishing rod to hook house or car keys through the letterbox.

Expensive gadgets, jewellery and sports equipment, such as bikes, are like sitting ducks in an empty house so keep them locked up if you can. Take portable electricals and devices with you or hide them at home. If you have a safe make sure you lock away jewellery, important documents including wills, cash, house deeds, passports, credit cards or other valuables or sentimental items not easily replaced. These should also be safeguarded from fire or flood damage, too

A guiding light shines

Outdoor lighting can be your biggest ally when it comes to home security. A poorly-lit garden, driveway or path makes life easy for thieves, who are far less likely to be seen by neighbours or passers-by. Motion-activated lights installed to the side of or above all main doors, that draw attention from neighbours, will make it much harder for intruders to snoop around, look through windows and gain entry to your house. Make sure they are out of reach of vandalism and there are no blind spots from where intruders can gain access to your home.

Always make sure your car is parked securely and don’t ever leave spare keys inside a vehicle or in plain sight inside your house. If you do get burgled you don’t want the thieves making off with your property in your own car!