How to make your home burglar-proof on a budget
It’s everyone’s worst nightmare – you enter your home to discover someone has broken in and stolen your most treasured possessions.
It’s a horrible feeling that no one should have to go through. It is also important to remember that there is no guarantee in stopping a burglar and therefore having insurance is critical.
Burglars tend to choose properties where pickings are easy. With a little extra thought, you can make it harder for them to break in and enter. Every second you delay them, there is a greater chance that they will be caught.
“Most local burglaries in our area are opportunistic, so the simple things probably can reduce the chances of them happening,” says Philip Jarvis, of Philip Jarvis Estate Agents in Kent.
“Be vigilant and look out for strange behaviour, such as people or cars and vans loitering. If it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t right.”
So how burglar-proof is your property? Here are our 25 tips to make your home burglar-proof on a low budget.
1. Easy for you – difficult for burglars
Burglars like to work quickly. They will check drawers and cupboards, medicine cabinets and under beds. Sunken-floor safes, hollowed-out books or small pouches in a wardrobe full of clothes might escape their notice.
2. Beware of the dog
A dog is a great deterrent. Whether you have one or not, leave a dog bowl by the door and put a “Beware of the Dog” sign on the gate.
3. Making an entrance
Install front gates – and hang a bell on them, or make sure they squeak. An unexpected noise will deter a burglar and alert any dog in the neighbourhood. Lock side gates and make sure your fences are in good repair.
4. The great outdoors
Keep bicycles and garden tools, toys and outdoor furniture locked away. Easy pickings will encourage any passing opportunist thief, while tools and ladders can help those planning to break into your home.
5. Less is more
Don’t have your valuables on show in the house. If it’s easy to see into your sitting room, and if it’s full of antiques or electronic gadgets, close the curtains or blinds, especially at night when you have the lights on indoors. It sounds obvious, but remember to close and lock windows when you go out.
6. Smart thinking
Burglars may not persist if you make it more difficult for them. Don’t provide cover – trim bushes and install motion sensor lighting. Sturdy doors that fit well, and strong frames will help, too.
7. Don’t forget to use deadlocks
Lock your doors and install deadlocks and bolts. Venetian blinds will be noisy for any burglar to navigate and may deter them.
8. Out of sight, out of mind
Make sure keys are out of sight – and reach. Don’t leave them near a letterbox, where they might be hooked through, or on a windowsill, where you leave the top casement window open, or anywhere near a cat flap. A letterbox protector inside the front door is a sensible precaution to stop burglars putting their hand, or a stick, through to open the door.
9. Sliding doors
Sliding French windows may need extra security – they sometimes have flimsy locks. A quick solution is to wedge a section of pipe in the track, so that they cannot be opened even if the lock is forced.
10. Cash in the attic
Burglars aren’t keen on attics – it’s too easy to get trapped up there if anybody returns to the house while they are riffling through your dusty belongings. So if you must keep valuables in your property, hide them in a safe place in the loft.
11. Think ahead before going away
If you are going away, don’t put holiday snaps on social media, while you are away, or announce your plans to the world – no matter how exotic. Save the Facebook or Instagram posts until you get back.
12. Setting the mood
Use an automatic timer to switch internal lights on and off in a couple of rooms. You can buy timer plugs from Wilko, Argos and Amazon for lamps around the house.
13. House rules
Cancel papers and other deliveries and use the Royal Mail keepsafe service or ask trusted neighbours to remove post.
14. Safe as houses
Make sure the bins are put away if that’s what you usually do. Your neighbours probably won’t mind moving them about once or twice when you are away. You can offer to reciprocate when they go on holiday.
15. First impressions
Ask your neighbours to park on your driveway. Many households now have two cars and it may ease pressure on the street.
16. Key to success
Don’t hide spare keys under a door mat or plant pot near the door. It’s too easy – remember you are trying to make things difficult for burglars. Yes, it’s useful to have a spare key handy, but leave it with a neighbour or hide it away from the door.
17. Quick solutions
Hide any bags or cases that burglars can easily use to transport your valuables. Any suitcases or rucksacks will be pressed into service if they are handy. Store them in the attic.
18. Start a neighbourhood watch group
Studies show that burglaries can be reduced by 60 per cent in areas that have neighbourhood watch groups. Find out more information here: www.ourwatch.org.uk/knowledge-base-category/how-to-get-involved/. You can also put a couple of neighbourhood watch stickers on your windows as an extra deterrent.
19. Give the right impression
Leave the television on a timer, so it looks like you are at home, watching the latest movie during the evenings. Alternatively, leave a radio on. If the burglar hears the noise indoors, they may assume somebody is at home.
20. Invest in high-tech gadgets
CCTV is a useful tool. Nest has introduced a range of indoor and outdoor cameras to deter intruders (price £159). They can record pictures and send alerts to your phone when they spot someone outside.
21. A clear giveaway
The boiler flue can also be a giveaway, so consider having the heating on low for an hour daily. It could stop your pipes freezing in the winter, too.
22. Fit an alarm
An alarm is a good idea. It may deter opportunists and give you peace of mind. Some alarms will alert you by phone, or alert a security firm, or the police. A dummy alarm box on the front of your home may also help.
23. Bright ideas
If you don’t have a real dog, have a recording of a fake dog barking. You can buy alarms that bark, when they sense motion from Clifford-James.
24. Advanced technology
More firms are now entering the home security marketplace and coming up with gadgets such as doorbell video feeds to your mobile phone, cameras within your home and advanced door locks. For more details, visit Nest.
25. And finally…
Security lights are a simple and effective way to deter burglars. They shine a spotlight on intruders when they are least expecting it. Activated by motion detectors, they provide peace of mind especially in remote areas (available from Amazon and Argos). A small precaution, with a big impact.
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