Burglary is one of the biggest worries for homeowners.The thought of coming home to find your home turned upside down and your most prized possessions gone is a recurring nightmare for almost all of us.
However, recent research reveals that more than a quarter of us make life easy for canny thieves by committing simple security lapses when our homes are empty.
One of the most common security oversights is to leave a set of keys under a flower pot, doormat or other easily accessible spot outside the house. It may be convenient but it’s not clever – these are the first places a burglar will look if they’re trying to get into your home.
Other oft-committed security blunders include leaving back doors open or unlocked during summer, leaving valuable close to an open window and leaving keys in the lock.
In order to increase homeowner awareness, the Metropolitan Police have identified thieves’ four favourite security oversights:
- The home is empty
- There is easy, private access via the side or rear of the property
- An alarm is not fitted, or it is not set
- Mortice locks are not fitted or set
Top tips to improve your home security
While you cannot ever completely eliminate the risk of your home being burgled, there are a number of things you can do to minimise the chances. Here are nine top tips to make life as difficult as possible for thieves.
- Fit an alarm – A house with an alarm is much less likely to be burgled than a house without one. Speak to your insurer to see if they recommend particular companies for installing alarms.
- Try to keep a minimal amount of cash in your home – Cash, jewellery, valuable documents and credit cards should be kept in a concealed safe, cash box or similar.
- Fit a good lock – Use good quality locks and, more importantly, use deadlocks on all main doors. Deadlocks make it considerably more difficult for thieves to break through a door.
- Don’t leave keys in doors or lying around – Get into the habit of leaving them in the same place so that you can find them in an emergency. Never leave your keys on a hook that can be easily viewed from outside the house. If thieves do break in and find your keys, it’s much easier for them to exit through a door, making it easier for them to take more of your property.
- Leave the lights on – When you go out at night, leave the lights on and curtains drawn in rooms where the thief might expect you to be, such as living rooms and bedrooms. For additional effect, you could leave the television or radio on as well. This helps create the illusion that you’re at home. If you’re going on holiday, you can purchase timer switches so that the lights come on during the times you would usually at home.
- Hide your electricals – Ensure that televisions, videos and stereo systems can’t be seen from accessible windows and that standby display units on these items are concealed at night.
- Secure your garden – The theft of garden ornaments, power tools, expensive plants and other garden items is on the increase. Make sure the perimeter fence is high enough to prevent thieves from climbing over. Adding a trellis with a climbing plant such as clematis will make it virtually impossible to climb over a fence of any height. Also, keep power tools, mowers and other valuable items firmly secured in a garage. Wire the garage to your alarm system and make sure you add an alarm box to the garage so a burglar knows the alarm is also fitted to the garage.
- Mark your property – Marking your belongings with your postcode and house number helps police return your property if you are robbed. It may also help to solve the crime. To mark your belongings effectively, use ultraviolet markers for televisions and other electrical items, as well as for important documents and ceramics. A hammer and die stamp is the best way to mark outdoor items such as bikes and mowers.
- Correctly value your possessions – As well ensuring your house is properly secure, it is important to correctly asses the value of possessions. Homeowners constantly collect possessions but fail to increase the value of their home contents insurance policy. Although some insurers offer an unlimited protection, most insurance companies limit the value of contents insured to £35,000 to £50,000.
Unfortunately, you can take every precaution but your home could still be robbed. Home contents insurance is designed to protect you should this ever happen. Every home contents policy clearly sets out the level of cover, which possessions are covered and, most importantly, the minimum security requirements for your home. Failure to follow these requirements could make your policy invalid. Read your policy carefully and ensure you follow all the security requirements. As with all insurance, premiums and the level of cover vary depending on the insurer and your requirements. Shop around for the best quotes before you purchase a policy. Banks and building societies tend to have the biggest share of household insurance, but they are also usually more expensive.