Doors & Windows
Quality locks and bolts are only as strong as the door and the frame they are fitted in so make sure that your wooden doors are solid and at least 44mm (1 3/4") thick. Check that the frame is well fixed. Any glass panels on or around doors are especially vulnerable, so it’s worth replacing them with toughened or laminated glass. Check that the door hinges are sturdy and secured with strong, long screws. For added security, fit hinge bolts or security hinges. If you're fitting locks to a standard door, fit a 5-lever mortise lock tested to BS:3621 and a BS:3621 night latch. Before fitting locks to PVC-U or metal doors, check with the installer to make sure that this will not affect your warranty. Patio doors are especially vulnerable to break-in by levering off the tracks. Your patio door should have the sliding section on the inside and have anti-lift blocks. Multi-locking systems are recommended or have mortise security bolts with removable keys at the top and bottom of both doors. Existing patio doors can be fitted with additional security bolts to stop lifting or forced entry. If you don’t have a window in the door or a way of checking who is calling, fit a door viewer and look through this to identify callers before you open the door. A Door chain allows the door to be opened a short distance to allow you to check the identification of a caller. They can stop callers pushing their way in, but they don’t contribute to the security of a locked door against burglary. Make sure strong fixings are used if you have one fitted.
Tip – Fit all security devices with strong screws or bolts and NEVER hang a spare key inside the letterbox or under a flower pot by the door (like your Granny used to).
Windows are a popular point of entry for burglars either by breaking the glass or because they have been left open. If you are replacing windows install units that are certified to BS7950 which details Windows of Enhanced Security. Think about using laminated glass in ground-floor and accessible windows such as those above a flat roof. Laminated glass holds together when shattered or when someone attempts to break it. Ground floor easy to reach windows, above a flat roof or near a drainpipe, should have locks unless they are used as a fire escape. Even small windows such as skylights or bathroom fanlights need locks.
Tip – If a thief can get their head through, with a bit of effort the body can follow.
Property marking your valuables will help you and the police identify them if they are stolen. It can make it difficult for the thief to dispose of the property and may provide the vital evidence the Police need for prosecution. Your items should be visibly and permanently marked by inscribing or etching your postcode plus the number of your house or flat or the first two letters of its name. Use a good quality commercial marking product giving your postcode or a reference and number unique to you and the product. Popular UV postcode marking can be removed and can fade in months so they should be used as part of a specialist product, such as chemical trace liquids or microdots painted on internal or hidden components. If you have something especially valuable, perhaps jewellery or a family heirloom, keep a record of the make, model and serial number. Take a photograph, then keep lists and photographs safe with your insurance policy and update any record or database if you sell or dispose of items.
Most homes have a computer in them. We keep a lot of important and valuable information on them making the data equally if not more valuable than the technology. Use security enclosures and cables bolted down to something solid for desk-tops, laptops and digital video projectors. Back-up your data regularly and store these back-ups safely away from the computer. Use strong passwords (combinations of upper and lower case letters and numbers where possible) and activate firewalls for Internet connections, particularly if using wireless networks.
Gardens, Gates & Fences
There is a lot you can do to your property to make it secure before anyone evens approaches it. If possible, identify the boundaries of your property with fences, gates, walls or planting. A thorny hedge along the boundary of your property can put thieves off, but make sure it doesn’t sprawl across public areas and cause injury to a passer-by. Make sure that passers-by can see the front of your property so that a burglar can't work without being seen. Burglars don't like gravel because it's noisy to walk on. To prevent easy access to the back and sides of your home could you install locked gates, fencing or walls? Trellis topping also makes climbing difficult. A 2m fence height provides a good barrier and a trellis topping makes it more difficult to climb over.
A good security lighting system will make offenders feel vulnerable and observed and should be used to illuminate high risk areas and allow occupiers to see people approaching. Take care that security lighting does not cause light pollution, annoy neighbours or blind occupiers from identifying callers.
Don’t leave items that may be used to break in or climb up around your property. If they have to be stored where they can be accessed, consider using ground anchors or wall bolts that will prevent them from being used to gain entry.
Garages & Sheds
Garages and sheds are often full of expensive tools to either steal or use to break into the house. Never leave a garage or garden shed unlocked, especially if it has a connecting door to the house. Fit strong padlocks with a staple and hasp to shed doors. Use a Sold Secure rated Garage door lock to supplement any integrated lock. If you have to store tools in a shed, make sure that the doors are solid enough not to be kicked in. Often the windows will be thin polycarbonate sheets, consider fitting locks or bars to windows. Consider lockable steel boxes or anchor posts fitted to the floor to secure larger tools and equipment like mowers, leaf blowers, chainsaws and hedge trimmers. Gardens tools and machinery should be permanently marked with your postcode. Lock ladders inside your garage or shed.