Put yourself in the burglar's position. How
would you get in if you were locked out? The chances are
that a burglar will use the same route!
How attractive is your home to the burglar?
Look at the checklist on this page and see how many vulnerable
spots you can identify in your home's defences.
If there's no one in all day, and your home
isn't overlooked, you'll need to take particular care. The
majority of burglaries take place during daytime - not at
night, as many people think, and the intruders often get
in downstairs at the back. In many cases a burglar can be
in and out in just a few minutes.
Securing Your Home
If you have recently moved in find out who
has got the keys. Consider changing the locks or having
Contact the installer of any existing alarm
system, the number can often be found on the bell box or
control panel, and ask them to check it over.
To secure your home against
the opportunist burglar who steals cash and valuable items,
which are on view.
Check locks of ground
floor doors and windows.
Check that upstairs
windows over-looking flat roofs or balconies have locks
Check the garage
doors are locked.
Check the security
of shed doors and windows.
If you live in a flat or maisonette you should
also check the main communal entrance security and the security
of sky lights.
Not surprisingly, detached houses are more
at risk than semi-detached or terraced properties. This
is because they are often secluded, and neighbours may not
be able to see or hear burglars at work. Houses or flats
near ends of streets or backing onto alleyways, parks, fields,
or waste ground are also particularly at risk, because of
the ease of access. Walls, fences and shrubs around the
garden may give you greater privacy, but they also enable
the burglar to work unnoticed. Patio doors give you a good
view out, but they can provide an easy way into your home.
The important thing is that you should be
aware of the risks that you face and take all the necessary
Remember that, in most cases, before burglars
enter a home they don't know what they'll find to steal.
The burglars assume you have something they want, and once
they're inside they'll find something to make the risk of
being caught worthwhile.
It may be cash or jewellery, TVs or videos,
computers, cameras or antiques. These days even the contents
of an average home freezer are often worth a second look
to a thief, especially if it is unlocked.
Look around your home - if you value your
possessions, the chances are the thief will as well.
The top ten items on the burglar's
shopping list are money; jewellery, chequebooks and credit
cards; computers; cameras; silverware; video recorders;
televisions; hi-fi equipment and antiques.
Do: lock all
your doors and windows when you go out. Pay particular
attention to the rear of your premises - a popular entry
point for burglars.
door keys in hiding places, such as under the doormat
or in a flowerpot. Thieves know all the hiding places.
Do: fit good
quality rim and/or mortice locks to all external doors;
use a 'deadlock' on the front door. Use mortice security
bolts or key operated door security press bolts on the
top and bottom of both solid wood and glazed back doors.
a window open a few inches for the cat to get in or out.
Burglars find this very useful too.
Do: keep your
shed and/or garage locked. Your tools are useful to the
thief who wants to gain entry. If your garage has a communicating
door with the interior of the house, secure it as another
ladders lying around. If you must keep them outside, padlock
them to something secure so you are the only person who
can use them.
Do: close the
curtains and leave a light on in a room (not the hall)
when you are out for the evening. Remember also to close
curtains when you are in, so that the burglar cannot see
where you are.
Do: leave a
radio on - with a talk programme on rather than music
curtains and blinds drawn during the daytime; they attract
dark areas around your home. Remember burglars hate light.
'back soon' notes on display. Burglars love a written
guarantee that the house is unoccupied.
Do: make sure
that your house and contents are insured.
to mark your valuables with your postcode/house number,
and to display a sticker showing that you have done so.
Marked property is less attractive to the thief and is
harder to dispose of. Photograph all items of high value,
record serial numbers of televisions, video recorders,
cameras etc. Have a ruler in shot so that the size can
be gauged of the object.
As many as two-thirds of all burglaries take
place through windows, especially those at the back on the
ground floor. Shutting them helps but it isn't enough. Often
a burglar will break a small pane, and then reach in to
open the catch. So how can you make it more difficult?
First of all, fit locks to all windows on
the ground floor and those, which can be easily reached,
from flat roofs or drainpipes. If you haven't got window
locks, you can buy them (they're not expensive) from locksmiths,
hardware stores, DIY stores and builders merchants. They
are effective because even if the glass is broken, the window
can't easily be opened, and a burglar won't normally bother
to take out all the glass. It takes too long, makes too
much noise and increases the risk of being caught. Buy locks
which secure the opening sections to the main frames.
Patio doors should be fitted with extra security
locks, top and bottom, and anti-lift devices, which prevent
doors from being lifted off the rails.
Louvre windows are particularly vulnerable
because the glass slats can be easily removed. If you have
this type of window, gluing the slats to the frames with
strong adhesive (epoxy resin not superglue) will make it
far more difficult for the burglar. There are special locks
All doors, but especially outward opening
doors should have hinge bolts fitted. For the best protection
on front main doors you should fit a security deadlock which
preferably conforms to BS 3621 look for the British Standard
Kite Mark if you're not sure. Most insurers now require
locks to BS 3621.There are two basic types: a mortice deadlock,
which fits into the door, and a deadlocking rim lock, which
screws onto the door. The latter may be preferable if the
door is thin, as fitting a mortice lock could actually weaken
the door. Consider fitting 44mm thick doors or a lock guard
Security deadlocks can be operated only with
a key, and a burglar cannot open the lock by breaking the
door glass and then reaching in to turn the handle. And,
of course, if a burglar gets in through a window a deadlock
will prevent him from simply walking out of the door with
When fitting locks to main doors, care should
be taken as to their position on the door. Ideally the turn
lock should be a third from the top and the mortice two-thirds
from the top. This helps spread the load should any body
pressure be exerted on the door. The weakest part of any
door security system is the locking post so fit a London
Bar. This is an inexpensive and proven device.All exterior
doors should also be fitted with three hinges; this will
necessitate only an extra hinge being fitted half way between
existing hinges where there are only two existing.
Don't forget that strength can also come in
numbers (but not too many), so it's advisable to fit strong
bolts top and bottom of all external doors you don't normally
use as your main entrance or exit. Use a key operated mortice
security bolt if possible, but if you fit a surface-fixing
bolt make sure it is a strong one and well screwed in. And
once fitted, always remember to use them. When choosing
a locksmith you should ensure that the locks and bolts they
supply and the quality of their installation reach British
Standards specifications BS 3621. This will mean they meet
the requirements of your insurance company.
For advice on the selection and installation
of locks and bolts, you can consult a member of the Master
Locksmith's Association.This organisation is pledged to
uphold a high standard of workmanship and ethical conduct,
offering peace of mind to clients employing its members.