With more than 400,000 burglaries in the UK every year, it is important to keep your home secure. While the number of burglaries in the UK has been declining for several years, it still equates to nearly 50 every hour. Unfortunately, burglars often target older people. They often see older people as being more vulnerable and forgetful, so they might think it will be easier to break into an older person's home.
However, there are ways of fighting back. The best defence is to make your home as secure as possible so that potential criminals are unable to gain entry. Today's post will give you 10 ways of keeping your home secure. For a more in-depth guide to protecting yourself, please see our top tips on how to avoid crime.
How To Keep Your Home Secure
1. Ensure All Windows And Doors Are Locked
The easiest way for a burglar to gain entry to your home is through unlocked windows and doors. Therefore, you need to check that all your doors and windows are locked before you go out and before you go to bed.
We would go as far to say that you should ensure your front/back door is locked when you're occupied in another room or upstairs. With you busy elsewhere, a burglar could sneak in without you even realising. If you're ever in doubt, keep your home secure by locking your windows and doors.
2. Keep Your Keys Out Of Sight
Once you've locked up, you should never leave your keys within sight of windows, or doors. If your front door has a letterbox, you should never leave your keys in the lock, because criminals can use special devices to reach through the letterbox and hook your keys. This would give them unrestricted access to your house and/or car, making you incredibly vulnerable to crime.
Instead, keep your keys in a safe place within your home that only you and your loved ones know about. If you choose to keep your keys in one place, such as a hook or a bowl, make sure this is not visible from the outside of your property. Of course, you still need to make sure that everybody in your household knows where to find the house key in case there is a fire.
3. Lock Your Gates And Maintain Fences
Much like your windows and doors, it's important to keep any access points to your property locked and properly maintained. We suggest adding a high-quality, waterproof padlock to any gates around your home. This will certainly make it harder for any potential burglars to gain access to your garden.
You should also maintain any fences surrounding your home. If the perimeter of your property is not secure, your home will be less secure as a result. After all, there isn't much point in having a fence if there is a hole in it or it has blown over. After stormy weather or strong wind, we advise checking fences for any damage as soon as possible.
4. Install A Security Camera
A security camera has many benefits when it comes to keeping your home secure. The sight of a camera will be a deterrent to many burglars, as it suggests that your home is well-protected. However, in the unfortunate event that you are a victim of burglary, the footage from a CCTV camera can help you get justice. Modern CCTV can include high definition footage, night vision, and huge hard drives to store lots of footage.
You can also link your CCTV through to your mobile, tablet or laptop in order to keep an eye on your home no matter where you are. Smart CCTV systems, such as Hive, will send an alert through to your mobile when they detect movement in your home.
5. Upgrade Your Doors And Windows
If you are concerned about home security, you should also consider adding night-latches, door closers and chains to your doors. What's more, you can now buy smart door locks, which use smartphones, key cards and tags rather than keys.
Additionally, planting thick, prickly hedges or rose bushes below windows can help to discourage anyone from trying to climb through.
Motion-activated lights outside your home are another effective deterrent for thieves.
6. Keep Ladders And Tools locked Away
If you have any tools, ladders, or other objects which could be used to break into your home, it's best to keep them securely locked away. Thieves could use your tools to break into your home via a door or window - perhaps even an upstairs window with the use of a ladder. A ladder can also allow criminals to climb up and take a good long look inside your home to see if there are any valuables inside.
Also remember to lock any bikes and toys away in the garage or shed - your bike could be stolen, whilst toys and games could indicate that there are more valuable items inside. For this reason, you should add a high-quality, waterproof padlock to your shed.
7. Unsure About The Door? Don't Answer!
If you're not expecting anybody at the door it's best not to answer it. At the very least, if you are unsure, you should answer with the chain on. It's all too common for older people to be targeted through door knocking scams or distraction burglaries.
A distraction burglary is when one person distracts the homeowner at the front door, while an accomplice finds another way into the home and proceeds to steal any valuables they can find.
The best way of avoiding this situation is to ignore the door and call for the police if it becomes a common occurrence. If you do choose to answer the door, you should do the following:
- Only open your door on the chain.
- Ask for photographic ID to prove that they are who they claim to be.
- Ask plenty of questions.
- Don’t think twice about saying no and closing the door.
- Think about installing a peephole or video doorbell. These let you see who is knocking without having to open the door.
8. Be Careful On Social Media
Criminals often monitor social media for anything that might give them an opportunity. You need to be extremely careful when you post on social media that you don't give personal details away.
It's very easy to forget when uploading an image, for example, that your house is in the background. This could give away your house number or the location of your belongings. Always check your photographs before you upload - don't publish if there is a nice shot of your TV, or some jewellery or your bank card on the side.
You should also be careful when you make your personal profile. There is no need to share your street name or anything like this, a simple mention of the United Kingdom or your city would be fine.
If you're going on holiday, remember not to mention it all over your profiles. A photo from the airport, for example, is basically an announcement that your home is going to be empty for several days. See more tips for when you go away on holiday.
9. Add A Burglar Alarm
The sight of a burglar alarm is a great deterrent to any would-be burglar. If a burglar does enter your home, an alarm makes it less likely that they will hang around to look for valuables. There different types of burglar alarms that you can consider:
- Bells-only alarm - Makes a loud noise, does not contact you or the police.
- Dialler Alarms - Automatically dials your phone number, or that of a chosen friend or family member(s), when the alarm is triggered.
- Smart System - This alarm contacts you or loved ones when the alarm goes off, through a smartphone or tablet app.
- Monitoring Contract - You can pay a monthly or annual fee to a company to take action or call the police if the alarm goes off.
The best alarm for your home depends on your personal preferences, your budget, where you live, what your home is like, and what level of protection and response you're after.
10. Don't Hide Spare Keys Outside
If you're hiding your spare keys underneath a plant pot or door mat, now is the time to stop. Criminals are well aware of these hiding spots and will try their luck to see if you've left your keys anywhere they can reach.
Instead, in order to keep your home secure, you should ensure that all of your family members have their own key. Alternatively, consider adding a keysafe to your home. A keysafe is a secure metal box which allows you to lock your keys away behind a combination code. You can then share the combination with a select few trusted loved ones. There are two police-approved keysafes here in the UK, both of which are available to purchase from Lifeline24:
Concerned about your safety at home? Find out more about the personal alarm.
Our life-saving personal alarms can offer peace of mind to anyone who is concerned about their safety at home. For more information, please speak to one of our friendly advisors on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, complete our contact us form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Editor's Note: This article was updated on 26 May 2020 to reflect current information.
Originally published 3 April 2018.