Beat the burgler

To effectively protect your property from break-ins you need to think like a burglar. Putting yourself in the shoes of an intruder and scoping out your home is the best way to find its weaknesses, which can usually be put right with minimal cost and effort…

Outside

There are two things to look out for when you’re walking around your property – coverage and access points. The former is best identified at night; are there dark corners where an intruder can hide? Do trees and shrubs obscure the view of your doors and windows from neighbours and the street? If so, you need to look at ways to deprive burglars of the concealment they need to break into your home. A darkened area is an invitation to would-be thieves. Trim your plants and install a motion-sensitive exterior light. Look for easy ways someone could gain access through windows – ladders in the garden should be locked up or put away, and tools should be secured in a padlocked shed.

Doors and windows

Contrary to popular belief, burglars rarely twiddle bobby pins in locks and slide credit cards across latches – the quickest way to open a door is to kick or smash it. Solid, sturdy doors are the biggest deterrent. Glass panels or sidelights may look stylish, but unless you’ve installed a dead-bolt lock that must be opened with a key from either side, thieves are just a brick or crowbar away from your most valuable possessions. Never leave the key in the lock but have a safe place nearby – the key needs to be accessible to all the family if they need to get out in an emergency. Window locks also offer an inexpensive way to deter opportunists, but again, ensure family members can open them from the inside.

Inside

Should an intruder gain access to your home, there are some easy and effective ways of protecting your valuables. Never leave wallets and handbags lying around, take them to your bedroom when you go to sleep.

The same goes for car keys, which must never be left in plain view – the last thing you want to give a burglar is a quick getaway in the family saloon. Once a burglar is in, they’re likely to get away with something, so give the police the best chance of returning your property by writing your postcode on valuables with a UV pen. Regularly take an itinerary of your possessions, supplemented with photographs, so you’ll be able to tell straight away what is missing and the police will know what to look out for. This also helps when submitting insurance claims.

Habits

Finally, you need to change your habits. Adding extra security measures is pointless if you don’t adopt these simple behaviours:

  • Lock windows and doors every time you go out or go to sleep;
  • Ask any stranger who comes to your door for identification;
  • Supervise repairmen and meter readers;
  • Make your home appear occupied when you go on holiday – install light timers and have a friend drop in regularly;
  • Stop burglars from window shopping by closing your blinds or curtains at night or when you’re not at home.