If you are reading this at work or out and about, do you KNOW, for SURE, that when you return to your house, all will be well with nothing missing?
Most of us could say “yes” with some certainty, and unless you live in a “rough” area, the chances of your home actually being broken into are slim, aren’t they?! Actually no it would seem.
Without wanting to induce paranoia into my valued readers, ask yourself the question above, again as we are going to run through some security loopholes and tricks you may not have ever realised.
Do you REALLY know your home is safe from intruders?
From the research we have carried out, and the findings we explain below, homeowners may not be advised to be so cocksure about the security of their house.
Some of what you read here will shock you.
Anybody reading this who has even been burgled before, will know only too well what an awful thing it is to happen. The feeling that “someone” has been in their own private personal space, perhaps even taking things that are not only valuable, but in some cases irreplaceable.
No amount of theft insurance cover can replace a treasured item stolen.
No amount of redecoration and re-arranging of the furniture will ever get that “violated” feeling away from your home.
I know from experience when I was burgled many years ago.
As someone who works online, I myself am constantly reminded about security, but let’s not forget we live in the real world, not the virtual one, and in general people take the security of their home for granted, until something happens.
Now, I am not in the business of creating mass hysteria or paranoia, and most homes have rudimentary security features nowadays as standard, such as strong door locks, outdoor lights etc, but remember many burglars are professionals and they know all too well the tricks of their filthy “trade”.
Here are our 6 top tips on how you can increase the security in your property and keep the bad men away.
6 tips on how to avoid getting burgled.
So here we go with our tips to close the security failings around your home, the ones you never knew you had.
The following top tips relate to security in private houses, not apartment blocks, which is a separate article we shall look at later this year.
Remember, this does not constitute professional or legal advice and if you are really worried about the security of your home, your first port of call would be your local police station who would be only to happy to hand out crime prevention advice to you.
Tip one: No burglar will ever get past your gravel driveway!
Yes, it’s true.
When a potential felon is “casing” your house, if they see that around the building there is a gravel driveway, like the home pictured below, they know that there is NO WAY they are going to get anywhere near your house without making a noise that sounds like a rugby team simultaneously eating bowls of Kellog’s Rice Crispies, amplified through a loudspeaker.
(A bizarre example perhaps, but with some of the rugby players I’ve met, you never know…)
So our first top security tip is to lay gravel around the home, if possible, and in some cases it can bring a new clean appearance to the exterior of the property.
This option is relative cheap and can be done yourself. Just go to your local builders merchant and arrange a delivery of what is known as “pea shingle”, but make sure it is laid on top of a thick DPM (Rubber sheet) or weeds will quickly grow through and ruin the effect.
You can buy this material from places such as wickes.co.uk and expect to pay about £40 for 850kg, although do try help smaller businesses in your area, and find a local, independent merchant, not a chain store, if you can.
Tip two: Not all burglars are afraid of the dark!
You can probably guess that burglars are generally perceived as “Night owls” so it is surprising to learn than most people don’t have an exterior light, and with the price of electric nowadays, many who do own one rarely switch it on, which sort of defeats the object.
So is that security light, the one you switch off for fear of upsetting the neighbours, really a deterrent at all?
Well, yes and no, argued Ian Hearnden and Christine Magill (2004) in their research paper Decision –making by house burglars: offenders perspectives, where they interviewed a selection of caught thieves and found that whilst lights do, in some cases, pose a deterrent, it was the combination of lights and CCTV that actually put them off, not the fact there was one security light at the victims home.
TOP TIP: Install security lights where they will actually MAKE a difference! If you are lighting a side path that is not overlooked by anyone, you could be AIDING the criminal by giving then better light to work in!
Tip three: Don’t forget the front door is not your only access point into your house.
Many people’s idea of good home security is to fit a strong front door with good locks and a chain, spyglass and within reach of the panic button on your alarm, all good advice to take though.
However, a burglar is a canny, devious and opportunistic person and the last place he will try and break-in is your front door so when making sure your house is secure, (don’t actually forget the front door of course), also look at the other ways a thief could easily gain access to your home.
A good test is to pretend that you have locked yourself out, with no keys and it’s urgent that you get in as you have left the gas on. (Just PRETEND you have left it on, please!)
How would YOU enter your own house if you were locked out?
- Is there an unsecured ladder against the garage wall?
- Are ALL your windows security locked or is one a bit dodgy or old and needs replacing?
- What about that flat roof extension?
- How about that steel or iron drain pipe running up the side of the house, looks easy to climb.
- Any open Velux™ roof windows you can slip in?
- Any ground floor windows left open in hot weather?
Doing this exercise will really alert you to any weak spots in security around your own home, but it is up to you to ACT upon them afterwards.
Tip four: A window without proper locks is an open invitation to a thief.
In today’s world most, if not all, double glazed windows come with a layer of security not seen in a generation and these sorts of things are now fitted as standard by the window industry.
Not only that, many companies offer windows that are internally glazed, adding a far higher level of security but if you are a high net worth individual (lucky you!) or just someone who is extremely paranoid (with a distinct bunker mentality) then by all means go further with window security if you makes YOU feel more secure in your own home.
The photo above shows a house in Spain that we painted many years ago for a client. As the home was left empty for a part of the year, the owners installed extra security such as iron gates and bars on the windows. A bit “over the top” perhaps, but I bet this house has never been broken into eh?
Trivia tip: Bars on the windows on homes in Spain and Portugal are called “Rejas” and are pronounced “reh-haz”
Returning to the UK, if your home has a basement with windows then these security bars are actually a very good idea and can be fitted in only one day.
People who live in bungalows especially should be more aware of some of these security tips than most.
Tip five: Home security should be INTERNAL as well as EXTERNAL.
It’s tempting to think that all your security steps should be involved with the outside, after all, that is where a potential burglar will try and get in, but hold on a second….
…If you have not considered security adequately enough, do you not think that the £1,000 savings in cash, in a teapot on the mantelpiece, would be better hidden away somewhere, or better still, safely in the bank?
Those bills stuck on your fridge could give the aspiring burglar your full, personal details, plus the possibility of obtaining further private information such as credit card number, PIN number, and all other types of personal info, and possibly even your money.
If these important bits of paper, clutter that all of us have lying around, can be clearly seen from the exterior of the house, that is something a burglar would consider a good REASON and an INCENTIVE to break-in as he knows he can make far more money with your identity that he could ever carry out in his swag bag.
This can be very easily used against you in identity theft and fraud, so keep those bills and important documents (and any cash) stored and filed away.
One final point along the lines of “giving someone a prime reason to choose your house to rob”, would be your CAR KEYS.
Burglars have been known to steal the victims car, (by-passing any expensive security your car may actually have of course) and then driving away with a car, your car, full of YOUR stuff.
“A lot of common sense is all that is needed to make your home more secure”
Tip 6: So you think your house is secure?
OK, you MAY think after reading all of this, that your house is like Fort Knox anyway, or it will be once you have put into action the tips contained herein, however criminals have become more sophisticated and they still have one or two tricks up their sleeves.
Earlier we spoke of research carried out in 2004 by Ian Hearnden and Christine Magill who looked into the minds and the habits of the house-breaker.
They managed to find out several really good tips, from the criminals themselves, on what works as a deterrent and what does not.
What did the research uncover that REALLY put off would-be intruders?
- Evidence of occupancy, even if a light is on downstairs (Which could be set on a timer switch), this can really put off someone who is thinking of entering your house illegally. Leaving a radio on in one room is another good disincentive to rob you.
- An alarm system. Have a good quality one installed with pressure pads, door switches and electronic eyes. Don’t be fooled into buying a dummy alarm box either as thieves ALSO go to B&Q and know the models used.
- CCTV cameras around the home are a huge deterrent, and the cost of installing this can be saved by subsequent lower house insurance premiums and using the latest USB/webcam based systems which are not expensive to buy. It depends on what price you attribute to your own peace of mind and feeling of safety.
- The strength of the doors and windows around the home. Windows that are internally glazed …(meaning you cannot run a screwdriver under the rubber seal outside and lift the pane out of the frame on sucker pads) …are what you should have installed, at least on the ground floor.
We had a straw poll here in the office to see if anyone else could think of a way to foil burglars. One of the most popular suggestions (delivered with a tad too much nerdy enthusiasm I may add…) was the concept of your HOME WI-FI SECURITY. I Bet you didn’t realise that people can rob you without even entering your home.
Amazing how life evolves and moves on with time. (*Sigh…)
With the growth in trends towards “smart homes” with everything controlled by an internal network, many home owners don’t realise that their home wireless internet signal, if left unsecured, can be hacked into very easily by someone near by.
So if that person can now know, for sure, that you are going out for the night and the house will be empty as you posted it on Facebook to your friend, then he knows that tonight is when he strikes.
Because your network was not secured, or left with an easy-to-guess password like “admin123” or something, then you are unwittingly letting your info be stolen.
You will have been burgled without being burgled.
Whatever will they think of next?
Other possible sources of data leaks, whereby someone can view documents and info on your WiFi network, and then go and steal your information, were found in most wireless gadgets around any typical house. This can include mobile phones, playstations, and anything else that can get access to your network.
If you have an internet connection around your home that is powered by POWERLINE plugs (via the electric plug sockets-very ingenious!) then unless you “pair” the 2 devices, it sets up a network that is unsecured. This is also the case with wireless printers, home CCTV (web based) systems and even wireless baby monitors.
Always make sure you choose strong passwords for your home WiFi network or you could be robbed without you even knowing it. More information on internet home security is available from all good internet service providers.
So there you have it.
You thought your house was burglar proof but I bet if you took our “I’m locked out” test you may have found a few ways that your home could be broken into that you never realised were there.
If you value your home, your privacy, your security, and the things within your house, it costs nothing to do your own security review from time to time, and of course keep your home insurance up to date too.
After all, if you don’t want to be one of the HALF A MILLION homes in the UK that are broken into each year, then spending time on your own home security means you can sleep well at night knowing you won’t wake up at 3AM to a man at the foot of the bed in a striped jumper and sack with “SWAG” written on it.