Whether you're looking to spend a lot, a little, or nothing at all, there are plenty of ways you can increase your home security, and make it less tempting for burglars. Let's take a walk...
- Lock up all your valuables in a garage or shed (particularly tools and ladders, which a burglar might use to his advantage).
- Keep your garden tidy and trimmed - an overgrown garden provides plenty of places for a burglar to hide.
- Consider placing thorny bushes under windows - just be careful if children or pets might be playing in the garden.
- Put up a fence or gate. It's better to use one with gaps, slats or chain links, so it becomes a deterrent rather than a hiding place.
- If you have a garden gate keep it locked, and don't place objects like bins nearby that could help someone climb over.
- Create as much light around your house as possible - lighting is one of the burglars biggest enemies.
- Make use of motion sensors, or lights containing a photocell that will come on when it gets dark. A house with a trail of lights popping on one after the other as you approach the door is a safe house.
- Place inexpensive solar lights in bushes, foliage or rockerys. All extra light helps - particularly in quieter and darker areas of the garden.
- Place lights in windows behind the curtain or blind.
- How does it look? Tatty? Poor quality? Your front door should be a stronghold!
- If you only have one simple lock, have a better one fitted, preferably with a mortice, or deadlock. You can also fit a door chain, or restrictor.
- Check that the hinges are secure and in good repair.
- For added security, fit a windowless door.
- A peephole is useful for seeing who is at your door before you open it, plus you can't see through it from the outside.
- Never forget to have the locks changed if it's a new house, you've ever lost a key, or even if you're worried that an ex might still have a key.
- Make sure your windows are fitted with locks and always lock them immediately after use.
- Use curtains and blinds to make it harder to see inside, and always close them at night.
- Consider using window alarms - inexpensive and easy to fit (usually magnetic or self adhesive) devices which are vibration sensitive, or triggered by the window opening. They're also great for patio doors!
- Cover your windows in anti-shatter security film. It's a cheap but effective way of making your window glass more secure. It can also help keep your house warmer.
- Easy to reach and ground floor windows should always be well protected.
- Fit a cage around the letterbox. It will prevent a burglar from 'hooking' any nearby keys, and make it harder to see a large amount of mail if you are away.
- If you have a mailbox don't put your name on it - you'd be surprised what you can find with just a name and address.
- Most burglars can spot cheap or dummy alarms (although they're better than nothing).
- Add a surveillance camera for added security.
- Conceal security system wires so they're harder to remove. This is also useful for telephone and electricity wires to stop a burglar tampering with them.
- Some alarm systems can be programmed to telephone you, or another chosen person if they're triggered.
- If you have the money to splurge on an alarm system, be sure to choose a trusted and reputable manufacturer, and have it fitted by a professional electrician.
- Get to know your alarm system and how it works. Try it out!
- Keep the doors shut and locked when you're not in there.
- Ensure it is properly and visibly locked - make use of padlocks.
- Place wire or bars over the windows.
- Install some motion sensor or photocell lights nearby or on the building itself.
- Clear out the garage and actually use it for storing your car - it's great in winter when you don't need to de-ice or scrape snow from the windscreen. It also keeps your car safer!
- Don't display any boxes for new, expensive items like TV's and games consoles. Keep them in the house until bin day.
- Shred or more carefully dispose of bills, bank statements and other important documents.
- If possible lock your bins away or leave them behind your house. A burglar sees a ladder and a filing cabinet.
- Turn the ringer off (or as far down as possible) when you're out or away.
- Don't leave a loud voice mail message announcing your two week foreign vacation that can be heard from outside.
- Don't hide a spare key anywhere outside your house.
- Leave one with a trusted neighbour, co-worker or friend.
JUST IN CASE
- Record the serial numbers of expensive items - you could even mark them to make them more difficult to sell on.
- Keep your valuables (including jewellery, spare keys, passports and important documents) in a safe.
- Don't leave spare house and car keys on display.
- Lock up even if you're only in the garden or upstairs. It's all too tempting to leave doors and windows wide open on a warm day.
- Try not to announce your holiday to everyone you know (and potentially millions that you don't) via social media.
- Leave lights - and maybe even a radio on a timer so it seems like someone is in.
- Consider leaving any valuables with family or friends.
- Ask a trusted neighbour to keep an eye on your house and maybe collect your mail.
- If it's going to snow while you are away try and arrange for someone to shovel your path or drive. Undisturbed snow is a huge indication of an empty house.
- Would a friend or family member house sit for you?
Good security is incredibly important all year round, but even more so in the festive season, with an increase in valuable goods and all the time spent away from home visiting others (or in my case - getting drunk and falling to sleep somewhere...). Here's to a very merry (and very safe) Christmas!