The Home Office publish excellent advice on home
Beat the burglar
Make your home more secure MAKE IT DIFFICULT
FOR THE BURGLAR
Most burglaries are committed by opportunist thieves. In two
out of ten burglaries they don’t even have to use force – they get
in through an open door or window.
Look at your home through the burglar’s eyes – are there places
where they could break in unseen? Have you fitted strong locks on
your doors and windows? Would they have to make a lot of noise by
Reduce the risk of burglary happening to you by making sure
you’ve taken these simple precautions.
For a relatively small outlay you could make your home more
secure and buy peace of mind into the bargain.
A third of burglars get in through a back window.
Easily visible locks may deter some thieves, because a window
lock forces the thief to break the glass and risk attracting
attention. DIY shops sell inexpensive key-operated locks to fir
all kinds of window.
|Fit key-operated window locks to all downstairs windows,
those which can’t be seen from the street and easily accessible
upstairs window, eg. Those above a flat roof or by a drainpipe.
|Even small windows such as skylights or bathroom fanlights
need locks – a thief can get through any gap larger than a human
Remember to remove keys from locked windows and to keep them
out of sight in a safe place.
|Louvre windows are especially vulnerable because the slats
can be removed easily from the frame. Glue the slats in place
with an epoxy resin, and fit a special louvre lock. Better still
replace them with fixed glass. |
|If you are replacing windows – consider laminated glass.
|As a last resort, consider fitting security grilles to
vulnerable windows – many DIY shops now sell decorative wrought
iron grilles. |
Casement locks make it impossible to open windows without the correct
Fanlight locks have a metal bolt to secure the
metal arm used to open and close the window.
The lock shown here locks the two windows
together. A more discreet version is embedded into the wooden
frame. Or there are devises to stop the window
opening beyond a certain limit.
Around the house
Good lighting can deter a thief.
Some exterior lights have an infra-red sensor that switches the
light on for a few moments when it detects something in its range.
Sensors can be bought separately to convert an existing outdoor
light into a security one.
Look in when you’re out.
Most burglaries happen when a house or flat is empty, so:
|Use time switches – available from DIY shops – to turn on
lights, radios and other appliances when you’re out. |
|Don’t tempt the thief – keep all valuable items out of
|Don’t advertise your absence when you’re on holiday, or even
when out at work or shopping. Most burglars will only tackle an
empty house. |
|If you can, get a friend or neighbour to look after your
home when you’re away, by collecting your post, drawing your
curtains at night and generally making the place look lived in.
And be prepared to do the same for them. |
Visible burglar alarms make burglars think twice.
There are many systems on the market, ranging from cheaper DIY
alarms to more sophisticated alarms costing hundreds of pounds.
Easily installable ‘wire-free’ alarms are now available whereby
sensors fitted around the house transmit radio detection signals
to a control system. These systems usually take 3-4 hours to fit.
Wired alarms are cheaper but take longer – around a day – to
|Get specialist advice and a number of quotes. |
|Consult your insurance company for companies they recommend
before deciding which best suits your needs. The system should
meet BS4737 (professionally installed) or BS6707 (DIY). |
Remember, a badly-fitted alarm can create problems in itself.
Don’t install a DIY system unless you have the electrical
knowledge and practical skill to do so.
IF YOU LIVE IN A FLAT
The most vulnerable part of your flat is likely to be the front
| Replace a weak door. It should be as strong as the main
entry door. |
|Fit hinge bolts which stop the door being pulled off its
|Fit a steel strip to the door frame to strengthen it. |
|Consider having a door telephone entry system installed.
Never ‘buzz’ open the door for strangers to hold the door open
for someone who is arriving as you are leaving. |
|Never leave a spare key in a convenient hiding place such as
under the doormat or in a flower pot – a thief will look there
|If you’re moved into a new house, consider changing the back
and front door locks – other people may have keys that fit. |
|Fit a strong, lockable, high gate across the passage to stop
a thief getting to the back of the house where they can work
undisturbed. If you share an alleyway with a neighbour, ask
their permission and for help with the cost. |
GARAGES AND SHEDS
Often full of expensive tools ideal for breaking into the rest of
the house – and often left unlocked.
|Never leave a garage or garden shed unlocked, especially if
it has a connecting door to the house – a thief could get in and
work on the inner door in privacy. |
|Fit shed and garage doors with a strong padlock and make
sure that they are solid enough not to be kicked in. |
|Lock ladders inside the garage or shed to stop a thief using
them to reach inaccessible windows. If there is no room inside,
chain or padlock them horizontally to a sturdy bracket on an
outside wall. |
GATES AND FENCES
|Check for weak spots where a thief could get in – a low or
sagging fence, or a back gate with weak lock. |
|A thorny hedge along the boundary can act as a deterrent.
But make sure that the front of the house is still visible to
passers-by so that a burglar can’t work unseen. |
SECURE ALL DOORS
If your front and back doors are not secure, neither is your home.
|Make sure the doors and frames are strong and in good
condition. Doors should be made of solid core construction –
44mm thick. |
|Glass panels on or around the door are especially
vulnerable, so replace them with laminated glass. |
|Fit back and front doors with a five-lever mortice deadlock
– and use it. |
|Fit all exterior doors – top and bottom – with bolts.
Remember to fit all security devices with strong screws or
|Get specialist advice on fitting locks to patio doors. |
|Fit both French doors, top and bottom, with a security
mortice lock and mortice bolt. |
Patio doors should have special locks fitted
top and bottom unless they already have a multi-locking system.
If you’re thinking of buying PVCu or metal framed windows or
doors, make sure that they come with good built-in locks and a
fitted chain, which can be very difficult and expensive to add
Look in your telephone directory for the names of local
locksmiths who are members of the Master Locksmiths’ Association.
Most front doors are fitted with a rim latch which locks
automatically when the door is closed but can be opened again from
the inside without a key.
For extra protection you should consider installing the
This locks automatically when the door is closed, but when locked
externally with a key, cannot be opened from the inside.
These help you to speak with strangers at the door without letting
Remember, if in doubt, keep them out
Buy a chain and use it every time you open the door.
Fit a five-lever deadlock about a third of the way up the door.
One kite marked to at least BS3621 should satisfy most insurance
A deadlock with a key, so a thief can’t smash a nearby panel to
open the door from the inside; if the thief gets into the property
through a window they can’t carry your property out through the
Check that the door hinges are sturdy and secured with strong,
For added security fit hinge bolts. These are inexpensive and
help to reinforce the hinge side of a door against the use of
Enable you to identify callers before opening the door.
Never hang a spare key inside the letterbox – an obvious place
that a thief will check.
Consider fitting a letterbox cage which prevents
thieves from putting their hand through the letterbox and trying
the locks from the inside.
Postcode your property
In only 9% of cases where something has been stolen is property
Marked property can deter burglars because it’s harder for a
thief to sell and can help the police to return it if found.
|Mark items with indelible identification – showing your
postcode and the number of your house or flat or the first two
letters of its name – using a permanent etching tool or an
ultra-violet marking pen. Only use UV marking when other methods
would reduce the value of the object, because the mark can fade.
Take pictures of all valuable items like jewellery
and silverware and write down the serial numbers of your TV,
video, hi-fi, home computer and camera equipment, to help the
police identify them should they be recovered. If you have many
valuable items, fit a safe.
Ask your local police station for ‘postcoded property’ stickers
to display in the front and back windows of your house.
Insurance will relieve you of the financial worry of
replacing stolen goods and many insurance companies offer reduced
premiums for people with good home security. Ask the firm if it
minds which systems you buy.
Are you fully insured?
With all security, consideration must be given to the risk of fire
and means of escape. Fit a smoke detector – a minimum of one per
floor – installed to the manufacturer’s instructions to BS5446
Be a good neighbour
If you see anyone acting suspiciously in your neighbourhood, call
the police. Join a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme – there are now over
130,000 in this country. Anyone can start up a Watch – call your
police for details.
If you are burgled
A secure home ill reduce the chance of you getting burgled. But,
if you get home and notice signs of a break-in:
|Don’t go in or call out – the intruder could still be
|Go to a neighbour’s to call the police. |
Crime Prevention advice
Some forces can arrange surveys of your home or business
premises and recommend security improvements. This is a popular
service – if there’s a waiting list you may be sent an information
pack so you can do your own survey.
All police forces have officers trained in crime prevention –
contact your local station for advice.
For a copy of
Practical Guide to Crime Prevention contact the Crime
Prevention Officer at your local police station or write to:
Crime Prevention Publicity
50 Queen Anne's Gate
London SW1H 9AT
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