Your Home - Securing Your Home

Left AlignMake it difficult for the burglar

Reduce the risk of your home being burgled by making sure you’ve taken these simple (and often inexpensive) precautions.

Most burglaries are carried out by opportunist thieves. In two out of 10 burglaries, they don’t even have to use force - they get in through an open door or window. So fit strong locks to your doors and windows and make sure you always keep them fully locked.

Look at your home through a burglar’s eyes.

• How would you get in if you’d forgotten your keys? If you can get in, so can a burglar.

• Are there places where they could break in without being seen?

• Would they have to make a lot of noise by breaking glass?


Windows

A third of burglars get in through a window. If you are replacing windows, take the opportunity to install new ones that are certified to British Standard BS7950 ‘Windows of Enhanced Security’ and consider using laminated glass, particularly in ground-floor and accessible windows, as this is much harder to break.

Otherwise, window locks that can easily be seen from outside may put some thieves off, because the thief would have to break the glass and risk attracting attention. And even if they do break the window, they still can’t open it so risk cutting themselves climbing through the broken glass.

Home security and DIY shops sell inexpensive, key-operated locks to fit most kinds of windows. You may need more than one window lock, depending on the size of the opening you need to secure. Fit window locks with keys to all downstairs windows and windows that are easy to reach – for example, those above a flat roof or near a drainpipe.

Even small windows such as skylights or bathroom fanlights need locks. A thief can get through any gap that is just slightly larger than a human head.

Remember to keep windows locked. Remove the keys and keep them out of sight in a safe place.

Louvre windows are especially vulnerable because thieves can easily take the slats out of the frame. Glue the slats into place, and fit a special louvre lock. Better still, replace them with fixed glass.

Before fitting locks to PVC-U or metal windows, talk to the installer to make sure this will not affect your warranty.

Consider fitting security grilles to vulnerable windows - but only if these windows are not escape routes in case of fire. Many DIY shops now sell decorative wrought-iron grilles.

Casement locks make it harder to open windows without the correct key.

Fanlight locks have a metal bolt to secure the metal arm used to open and close the window. Ideally, though, you should not rely on these locks - fit a casement lock too.


Doors


Secure all doors

If your front and back doors are not secure, neither is your home. Two thirds of burglars gain entry through a door.

If you are replacing a door, take the opportunity to improve your security by installing a door that is certified to British Standard PAS 24-1 'Doors of Enhanced Security'.

Glass panels on or around doors are especially vulnerable, so replace them with laminated glass. Or, you can buy special film to stick to the inside that will do the same thing.

Make sure the doors and frames are strong and in good condition. Wooden doors should be solid and at least 44mm (1 and 3 /4") thick.

Fit five-lever mortise deadlocks (Kitemarked BS3621) to all outside doors, including French doors. And make sure you use them.

You can make wooden doors stronger by fitting a steel strip and plates to the door frame and around the lock.

Keep your doors locked even when you’re at home. Use the mortise deadlock or, on PVC-U or other enhanced security doors, the fully or double-locked mode especially at night. Fit mortise bolts to the top and bottom of all outside doors, including both sides of French doors.

Remember to fit all security devices with strong screws or bolts.

Before fitting locks to PVC-U or metal doors, check with the installer to make sure that this will not affect your warranty.

1. Chains and door viewer
If you don’t have a window in the door or some other way of checking who’s calling, fit a door bar or chain and door viewer. Use them every time someone calls. Remember, though, that you only use the door chain or bar when answering the door - don’t leave it on all the time.

2. Hinges
Check that the door hinges are sturdy and secured with strong, long screws. For added security, fit hinge bolts. These are cheap and help to reinforce the hinge side of a door against force. Hinge bolts or security hinges are especially important if your door opens outwards.

3. Letterboxes
Never hang a spare key inside the letterbox. This is an obvious place that a thief will check. Letterboxes should be at least 400mm (16 inches) from any locks. Consider fitting a letterbox cage or other restrictor, which prevents thieves from putting their hands through the letterbox and trying the latches from the inside.

4. Rim latch
Most front doors are fitted with a rim latch, which locks automatically when the door is closed. You can open these from the inside without a key. For strength and quality, look for BS3621 Kitemarked products. For extra protection, you should consider installing the following.

5. Automatic deadlock
This locks automatically when the door is closed and is more secure than other types of rim latch. It needs a key to open it from both the inside and the outside.

6. Mortise deadlock
Fit a five-lever mortise deadlock about a third of the way up the door. Most insurance companies are happy with one Kitemarked toBritish Standard BS3621. You can only open a deadlock with a key, so a thief can’t smash the nearby glass panel to open the door from the inside. Deadlocks also mean that if burglars get into your home through a window, they can’t carry your belongings out through the door.

Sliding patio doors should have anti-lift devices and locks fitted to the top and bottom to stop them being removed from outside, unless they already have a multi-locking system. Get specialist advice. If you are getting new or replacement patio doors, ask the system supplier for their high-security specification.


Keys


Never leave a spare key in a convenient hiding place such as under the doormat, in a flowerpot or behind a loose brick - thieves know all the usual hiding places.
If you move into a new home, change the front and back door locks immediately – other people may have keys that fit. Look in your phone book for the names of local locksmiths who are members of the Master Locksmiths’ Association.
Never leave your house or car keys in or near a door or window. Some thieves have been known to use a fishing rod or magnet on a stick to steal them through the letterbox.

Decide on a safe place for your keys and always use it, so you can find them in an emergency.

Increasingly, burglars are breaking in to steal the keys of high-value cars. So take care of your keys and, if you have a garage, keep your car in it rather than on the drive.


If you live in a flat:

Doors on individual flats are often not as strong as those on houses and can be the easiest way for a thief to break in.

Follow the advice about doors, above.

Doors to flats over a floor level of 4.5 metres (normally those on the second floor or higher) should have locking mechanisms fitted in line with BS5588 Part 1:1990 ‘Fire Precautions in the Design and Construction and Use of Buildings’.
Shared entrances

Consider having a phone-entry system fitted to the main door to your building. Never ‘buzz’ open the door for strangers or hold the door open for someone who is arriving just as you are leaving or entering the building.


Distraction Burglary / 'Bogus Callers'


Some burglars try to trick their way in. They may say they are from a company or the local council. Or, they may ask for a glass of water, or to wash their hands or claim to have lost a pet. In fact, they’ll use any story they can to get in. They can be young (even children) or old, male or female, and might work alone or in teams. They often target the elderly.

Remember

• Lock
Keep your doors and windows locked, even when you’re at home.

• Stop
Are you expecting anyone, do they have an appointment? Make sure the back door is locked - some thieves work in pairs with the other one sneaking in the back while you’re at the front door.

• Chain
Put the door bar or chain on before you open the door.

• Check
Check their identity carefully. Ask for an ID card. Close the door and check using a phone number from the phone book or a relevant bill, not the one on the card.
If in doubt, keep them out, particularly if you’re on your own. Ask them to make an appointment or come back later when someone else is around. Genuine callers won’t mind. If you are suspicious, report the incident to the police. You may help prevent them from burgling someone else.


Gardens, gates and fences


Prevent intruders getting to the back and sides of your home by installing strong fencing or gates.

Check for weak spots where a thief could get into your garden, for example, a low or sagging fence, or a back gate with a weak lock.

A thorny hedge along the boundary of your property can put thieves off. But make sure that passers-by can still see the front of your home so that a burglar can’t work without being seen.

Burglars don’t like gravel, it’s noisy to walk on.

Don’t build pergolas, gazebos and so on too near to the house, they can help thieves reach upper windows.

Solid fences or walls (particularly those with a flat or rounded top) are relatively easy for a burglar to climb over. Fixing trellising to the top can make it more difficult.

Do not use barbed or razor wire, or broken glass - you could be held legally responsible for any injuries caused. You can get safer alternatives that are designed not to cut or injure.