At Home

Protecting your home against break-ins

Izzy Schulman - Keys4U
3rd May 2021
burglar 7

The latest data reveals three-quarters of reported theft cases last year were closed with no suspect identified.

The latest data reveals three-quarters of reported theft cases last year were closed with no suspect identified.

Home Office statistics show just 5.2%of theft offences reported in England and Wales resulted in a suspect being charged. In some areas of the UK, these figures are even more shocking – with West Midlands police closing 88% of cases without even identifying a suspect.

In light of these statistics, it’s more important than ever that homeowners know how to properly protect their home, with criminals unlikely to be brought to justice and stolen belongings returned.

With this in mind, Izzy Schulman, Director at Keys 4 U, shares his tips for protecting your home against break-ins and what to do if the worst happens.

Protecting your property

Drive time

Gravel driveways are an attractive and cost-effective option compared with other material home security alternatives.

The loud crunching noise produced when someone walks over a gravel driveway can be heard in the home and by neighbours, helping you detect unwanted visitors. It’s even been recommended as a security feature by some police organisations.

Garden guarding

For burglars, the aim is to get in and out of the home quickly and without being seen. So, an overgrown garden is an ideal place to hide while they scout out a property.

As we approach the summer months, it’s the perfect time to tackle gardening. Cut down overgrown trees and trim away any unkept bushes. This removes covered or shaded areas where criminals can hide unseen and, making it easier to break in and get away undetected.

Nail your home security

While you may picture burglars as criminal masterminds, the reality is over a quarter of UK burglaries are a result of simply forcing entry.

It takes just seconds for someone to kick your front door open if the right precautions aren’t in place. It’s important UK homeowners reinforce their door to protect against brute force.

One cost-effective way to secure your home is simply replacing the screws holding the strike plate and hinges in place. Often, the screws used to fix these in place are less than an inch, providing little resistance against repeated heavy strikes.

Remove your existing screws with a drill and replace them with longer screws – around 70mm-80mm – so they reach beyond the door frame and into the structure of the house, giving them greater stability against forced entry.

Make sure to remove the screws and replace them one at a time. This keeps your strike plate in place while you insert the new screws, preventing it from moving out of alignment with your lock.

Light it up

Keeping the outside of your home well-lit will deter criminals and attract attention to any uninvited guests trying to gain access to your property.

Motion-sensor lights offer an eco-friendly alternative to permanent lights too, as they only light up when triggered by movement.

Locked away

Keeping your valuables locked away doesn’t have to mean investing in a safe from a diamond heist movie.

There are plenty of affordable lockable containers on the market – whether they come with a built-in safety element like a keyhole or combination lock, or with space for you to attach a padlock.

Burglars aim to get in and out of each home as quickly as possible to avoid detection. And as almost half of UK burglaries are opportunistic, thieves often won’t be carrying tools to help them break open secure storage – keeping your valuables safe, even if the worst happens.

Key lock boxes are also recommended. These inexpensive devices keep your spare keys locked away, requiring a corresponding key or passcode to access and are much safer than leaving a key under that mat.

Always watching

Ex-burglars claim the biggest deterrent when choosing a target home is a visible CCTV system. However, for many homeowners, installing a CCTV system marks a significant investment.

If you’re looking for a cost-effective alternative, consider installing a smart doorbell. The compact device lets homeowners record footage from their front door, putting off potential intruders in the same way as a larger camera system.

Plus, they fit easily in place of your existing doorbell, saving on the cost of a professional installer, which would be needed to hook up a CCTV system.

Those looking to protect their home on a budget should also consider wireless door and window alarms. Not only are they a fraction of the price of a complete home alarm system but unlike fitted systems, they’re versatile and can be moved around the home, wherever you need them.

The proactive approach

When it comes to protecting your home, it can pay to be ahead of the curve. Wear and tear on your locks mean you never know when they may stop working, leaving you unable to lock your home safely.

Working with a locksmith on a non-emergency appointment saves you on the premium rates of an urgent callout. They assess your locks for weak points and make any necessary repairs there and then before anything goes wrong.

However, it’s comforting to know emergency locksmiths are available when you need them. If you misplace your keys or your lock breaks, calling on a locksmith is a minor expense compared to the cost of replacing stolen valuables or having someone enter your personal space.

What to do if you’ve been burgled

Take stock

Make a list of the items that have been stolen or damaged during the burglary. If possible, note down any useful or unique details about the items, like engravings or personalization, as these will make them easier to identify.

Get in touch with your bank if any cards were stolen so they can freeze the account and stop them from being used. Online banking gives you instant access to your account so you can look for any recent activity that may help with the investigation.

People often overlook their medicine cabinet when checking their home but pharmaceuticals are increasingly being stolen to be sold on. Plus, you may not realise medication is missing until it’s too late, so make this part of your checks.

Alert your insurance company

Let your insurance company know you've been burgled as soon as possible. You can speed up the claims process by digging out any product receipts or proof-of-purchase documents to send over to them.

If you have home insurance cover (which is recommended) check the policy and see what’s covered. Typically, you’ll be covered for home damages and theft, which should give you a bit of peace of mind in a stressful time.

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