Home security: the basics
- Always keep keys out of sight (including car keys) so they cannot be reached through the letterbox. Hiding house keys in obvious places, like under a doormat or plant pot, makes it easy for thieves to let themselves in.
- Make sure that you always use the security fittings you have at home, such as mortice dead locks and alarms. It may be a condition of your home insurance that you do (please check your documents). That way, your home is less likely to be burgled – or thieves may not have the opportunity to steal as much.
- Install an alarm at home. Keep access codes / pin numbers secret and change them regularly. If you have an alarm system (or even a good guard dog) put up 'Beware' signs as this deters thieves.
- Use timers to turn lights on and off when you are away from home for the night. Ask a trusted family member, friend or neighbour to pick up mail, deliveries and newspapers, as well as put away bins if you’re away longer. If someone can park in your driveway while you’re away, even better.
- Get involved in a local neighbourhood watch scheme. If there isn’t one, see if you can set one up. If not, come to an agreement with your neighbours that you’ll look out for each other.
Keeping your things safe when you're out and about
- Whether you’re using public transport, in a shop or relaxing at the pub, never leave your bag unattended.
- Don't leave laptops, mobile phones or other electricals on show when outside or travelling.
- If you're on your bike, lock it up when you leave it - even if you’re just popping into a shop.
- Don't keep your address with your house keys. If they're lost or stolen, the thief knows where you live. Get locks changed immediately if your keys have been lost or stolen, especially if your address was kept with the keys or there was some other way to identify where you live.
Making your property secure
- Change the locks when you move into a new home, or return to a previously rented property, as the old occupier may have kept copies.
- Make sure the outside of your house is well lit. Exterior lights are important, especially near doors or to the rear of the house, where thieves will attempt to break in. Exterior lighting should be fitted higher up, out of easy reach.
- Always ask for ID from any workmen or unexpected callers and refuse entry to your house if unsatisfied.
- Don't leave items in your garden that could be used to break into your house. Commonly used objects are spades, bricks and other tools.
- Use an ultraviolet pen to mark your name, house number and postcode on your property. This will make it easier for the police to identify any recovered items that belong to you.
- Don't leave ladders easily accessible – thieves could use them to access your first floor windows where security may not be as good. If you do need to keep them in the garden, lock them to an immovable object.
Don't forget about the garden...
- Wheelie bins can be used to climb over gates and fences. Try to keep these secure.
- Take a look round your house to see if you can identify any weak spots, as a thief may see this as the place to gain entry.
- Trellis works as a good anti-theft device on fences, as it will break under a thief's weight if they try to climb over it.
- If you have a long driveway, gravel can put some thieves off as it makes a noise at night when you walk on it.
For more on what you're covered for when it comes to theft in your home, check out our articles on what giving out spare keys could mean for your home insurance and how you could be accidentally advertising your home to burglars.