Beat the Burglar
|BEAT THE BURGLAR
Most burglaries are committed by opportunist thieves.
Look at your home through the burglar’s eyes – are there places where they could break in unseen? Have you fitted strong locks on your doors and windows? Would they have to make a lot of noise by breaking glass? Reduce the risk of burglary happening to you by making sure you’ve taken these simple precautions. For a relatively small outlay you could make your home more secure and buy peace of mind into the bargain.
A third of burglars get in through a back window. Easily visible locks may deter some thieves, because a window lock forces the thief to break the glass and risk attracting attention. DIY shops sell inexpensive key-operated locks to fit all kinds of window.
Fit key-operated window locks to all downstairs windows, those which can’t be seen from the street and easily accessible upstairs window, eg. Those above a flat roof or by a drainpipe. Even small windows such as skylights or bathroom fanlights need locks – a thief can get through any gap larger than a human head. Remember to remove keys from locked windows and to keep them out of sight in a safe place.
Louvre windows are especially vulnerable because the slats can be removed easily from the frame. Glue the slats in place with an epoxy resin, and fit a special louvre lock. Better still replace them with fixed glass. If you are replacing windows – consider laminated glass. As a last resort, consider fitting security grilles to vulnerable windows – many DIY shops now sell decorative wrought iron grilles.
Casement locks make it impossible 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. A more discreet version is embedded into the wooden frame. Or there are devices to stop the window opening beyond a certain limit.
SECURE ALL DOORS If your front and back doors are not secure, neither is your home. Make sure the doors and frames are strong and in good condition. Doors should be made of solid core construction – 44mm thick.
Glass panels on or around the door are especially vulnerable, so replace them with laminated glass.
Fit back and front doors with a five-lever mortice deadlock – and use it. Fit all exterior doors – top and bottom – with bolts. Remember to fit all security devices with strong screws or bolts. Get specialist advice on fitting locks to patio doors. Fit both french doors, top and bottom, with a security mortice lock and mortice bolt.
Patio doors should have special locks fitted top and bottom unless they already have a multi-locking system.
If you’re thinking of buying PVCu or metal framed windows or doors, make sure that they come with good built-in locks and a fitted chain, which can be very difficult and expensive to add retrospectively. Look in your telephone directory for the names of local locksmiths who are members of the Master Locksmiths’ Association, or visit www.locksmiths.co.uk.
Most front doors are fitted with a rim latch which locks automatically when the door is closed but can be opened again from the inside without a key.
For extra protection you should consider installing the following:
AUTOMATIC DEADLOCK - This locks automatically when the door is closed, but when locked externally with a key, cannot be opened from the inside.
CHAINS - These help you to speak with strangers at the door without letting them in. Remember, if in doubt, keep them out. Buy a chain and use it every time you open the door.
MORTICE DEADLOCK - Fit a five-lever deadlock about a third of the way up the door. One kitemarked to at least BS3621 should satisfy most insurance requirements. A deadlock with a key, so a thief can’t smash a nearby panel to open the door from the inside; if the thief gets into the property through a window they can’t carry your property out through the door.
HINGES - Check that the door hinges are sturdy and secured with strong, long screws. For added security fit hinge bolts. These are inexpensive and help to reinforce the hinge side of a door against the use of force.
DOOR VIEWERS - Enable you to identify callers before opening the door.
LETTERBOXES - Never hang a spare key inside the letterbox – an obvious place that a thief will check. Consider fitting a letterbox cage which prevents thieves from putting their hand through.
AROUND THE HOME
Look in when you’re out.
If you live in a flat
Garages and Sheds
Gates and Fences
Consult your insurance company for companies they recommend before deciding which best suits your needs. The system should meet BS4737 (professionally installed) or BS6707 (DIY). Remember, a badly-fitted alarm can create problems in itself. Don’t install a DIY system unless you have the electrical knowledge and practical skill to do so.
Be a good neighbour
If you are burgled
Don’t go in or call out – the intruder could still be inside. Go to a neighbour’s to call the police on 101. If the intruder is still in the property dial 999.
Crime Prevention Advice.
For a copy of Your Practical Guide to Crime Prevention contact your local Community Safety Unit.
Postcode your property.
Mark items with indelible identification – showing your postcode and the number of your house or flat or the first two letters of its name – using a permanent etching tool or an ultra-violet marking pen.
Only use UV marking when other methods would reduce the value of the object, because the mark can fade. Take pictures of all valuable items like jewellery and silverware and write down the serial numbers of your TV, video, hi-fi, home computer and camera equipment, to help the police identify them should they be recovered.
If you have many valuable items, fit a safe. Ask your local community safety unit for ‘postcoded property’ stickers to display in the front and back windows of your house.
Your possessions may mean a lot to you but to a thief they are just another way of making easy cash. If stolen, you may be able to replace your TV, video and hi-fi, but do you own things that would be impossible to replace? These might include items of sentimental value.
Of course the best thing to do is to protect your home against thieves. But if someone did break in and steal things, could you describe what you have lost fully and accurately to the police? It's not as easy as it sounds when all you have to rely on is your memory.
Every year, property worth hundreds of thousands of pounds is recovered by the police and not returned to its rightful owners. This is simply because it can't be properly identified. And if the items can't be identified, the police may not be able to prove that they were stolen. They may then have to give your property back to the thieves and let them go.
Your postcode, plus your house or flat number (or the first two letters of your house name), provides a simple and unique way of identifying your property.
A person living at 7 West Albion Street, Notown, NT42 9WA, for example, would use NT42 9WA 7.
A person living at Crossroads Cottage, High Street, Anytown, AN3 1NZ would use AN3 1NZ CR.
If you don't know your postcode, ask at your local post office or visit www.royalmail.com and click on 'postcode finder'.
Thieves find identifiable property dangerous to handle and difficult to sell on. As a result, you can put them off by marking your property and advertising that you have done so by displaying a 'Coded for Keeps' sticker anywhere a burglar might get in, for example on the doors and windows of your home.
How To Mark Your Property
There are several ways to mark your property depending on the type of object you want to mark. You can get easy-to-use property marking kits from stationers and DIY stores.
Engraving Or Etching
Ultra Violet Or 'Invisible' Marking
Marking And Registration Services
Where you mark your property is important – particularly if you are using the engraving method. If you want the mark to be out of sight, choose somewhere behind or underneath the item. However, don't pick somewhere so hidden that the police would not be able to find it. Whichever method you use, the mark should be so secure that removing it would damage the property or affect how the item performs.
Keep A Record Of Your Property