Securing your home
Having good home security is vital for protecting your family and your assets. However safe you feel your neighbourhood to be, it is still important that you take reasonable steps to reduce the chances of theft and increase your piece of mind. For example, locking the front door when your home is occupied, making sure that windows in unoccupied rooms on the ground floor are closed, carrying out regular maintenance on door handles, hinges and locks and ensuring that any security devices are used to their full capacity are all inexpensive measures that can make the difference to the security of your home.
We have put together the following handy hints to help you make sure your home is secure as possible:
Doors are the primary route of entry and exit for most burglars. So what can you do to deter them?
- Use 5lever mortice deadlocks or multi-point locking devices
- Ensure door frames are strong enough to support the door, hinges and lock
- Make sure external doors have a minimum width of 45mm
- Install a London Bar or Birmingham Bar to provide additional support to the door frame
- A London bar helps to strengthen and reinforce the door frame around the rim lock or cylinder night latch
- A Birmingham Bar helps to strengthen and reinforce the door frame on one or both internal faces of an inward opening door
- Place an internal cover plate on your letter box
- Consider fitting a spy hole and door chain for additional safety and security
- Never leave house keys in or near the door (they could be removed through the letterbox)
- Ensure patio doors are secured with either multi point locking devices or top and bottom locks with a central deadlock.
Homes with windows left open or unlocked are a prime target for burglars. Even a simple window lock can be enough to deter a burglar, as more often than not it will mean that he has no other option than to smash the window to gain access, thus drawing unwanted attention. Here are a few simple steps to help you make sure your windows are secure:
- Lock all doors and windows when you leave your home unoccupied, even if for a few minutes.
- Use toughened glass or double glazing on all accessible windows
- Fit double window locking systems where possible. As a general rule of thumb the handle should not be the only means of keeping the window closed.
- All single-glazed accessible windows should be fitted with laminated glass. This is much more difficult to break than plain glass as it does not shatter, which will cause a delay in any attempt at forced entry.
- Ensure no ladders are left in sight as inaccessible windows can easily become a target for a burglar.
- Avoid leaving valuables, house or car keys near a window, even if the window is closed or locked. Sometimes temptation is just too great to resist.
Garden sheds are easily overlooked when considering home security, but with typical contents such as gardening equipment and pedal cycles often adding up to hundreds of pounds they are a popular target for burglars. It may not be enough to simply fit a heavy-duty padlock or a hasp and stable, however, as the door or frame may not be strong enough to support them. Whether you are fitting a heavy-duty device or a smaller but sturdy padlock, it is a good idea to fit coach-bolt fixings through the door and frame and good locks to the windows.
Garages are frequently used for storing not only cars, motor bikes and pedal cycles but also property similar to that found in garden sheds. It is wise not to rely solely on the centre lock provided; if the door is the only means of entry to the garage it should ideally be fitted with a hasp and staple together with a padlock. Look out also for specially designed mortice locks for garage doors that close into the side frame.
Solid wooden gates offer easy entry for burglars because they are sturdy to climb and tend to be tucked away at the sides of the house. Consider using wrought-iron gates as a far more effective deterrent, as any intruders can be seen through them. For added security it is always wise to use at least two locks on a gate if possible. For example if you do have a wooden gate you could use a padlock and a hasp, and for wrought-iron gates you could use a thick, heavy chain with a padlock.
The back garden is the most vulnerable part of a house. Trellis fitted to the top of a fence can act as a deterrent to a burglar as it is more likely to break, make a noise or cause an injury. If you are erecting barbed wire or other such fence topping remember that it is important to take all reasonable steps to prevent injury to people and animals using the adjacent highway. Make sure that it does not overhang the road and that it inclines inwards.
Valuables left in view outside are an easy target for an opportunist thief. Ensure all valuables are locked away or anchored to the ground and keep garden furniture covered when not in use.
Flats and apartments
Burglars will often target blocks of flats because it can be easy to gain access through a communal entrance. Once inside they will usually head straight for the top-floor flats where there is less likelihood of being seen by passers-by. To prevent your apartment from becoming a target consider taking the following steps
- Investing in a strong door and door frame with good-quality locks
- Having multi-locking systems on PVC and aluminium doors. When you lock the door, remember to remove the key and always put keys in a safe and secure but easily accessible place in case of fire.
- Fitting letterbox shields so that the internal handle can’t be accessed or keys be fished through the letterbox.
- Reinforcing frames with metal strips such as London and Birmingham bars
- Fitting hinge bolts to outward opening doors
- Replacing glass panels in doors with laminated glass or reinforcing them with security film or grilles.
- Fitting ground-floor patio doors with an anti-lift device so that they cannot be lifted from their runners
- Fit all ground-floor windows with key-operated locks.