"While you may picture burglars as criminal masterminds, the reality is over a quarter of UK burglaries are a result of simply forcing entry."
The current coronavirus pandemic has changed UK spending habits – with consumers spending less than usual on household appliances, home maintenance and insurance.
Izzy Schulman, director at Keys 4 U, offers his tips for keeping your property safe without breaking the bank.
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.
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.
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.
Practising simple, safe habits can protect your home and doesn’t cost a penny. Keeping your valuables out of sight of windows and letterboxes may deter opportunist thieves who are scouting properties and weighing up the risk and reward of breaking in.
If you’re going away, consider leaving the radio, TV or interior lights on to make it look like your home is occupied.
Ask a neighbour to keep an eye on your home while you’re away. Giving them a spare key to your home means they can stop your mail building up – a telltale sign to burglars your home is unoccupied.