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Home security checklist for 2015
If the cost of upping the security on your home has put you off in the past, it doesn’t need to cost a fortune to protect your property as you can make a few simple upgrades on a budget. Here’s how:
Install a burglar alarm – it doesn’t need to cost a fortune to install a burglar alarm on your property; you can pick up a basic one for as little as £100. If you already have an alarm, make sure you’ve changed the code since you moved in. Also make sure the alarm box is on the outside of the property where potential thieves can see it so it can act as a deterrent.
Keep external doors and windows locked – when you’re out of the house, make sure to keep all of the external doors and windows locked tight, otherwise they could provide an easy entrance to an intruder. However, they need to be easy to open from the inside at night, in case of a fire or emergency. Most insurers stipulate that all ground floor doors and windows should be locked at night when you are in the house, and many will ask that you have a secondary security lock on windows too.
Change external locks to mortice locks – external doors need to have secure locking systems so that burglars won’t be able to get in. Get a professional to install a five-lever mortice lock that conforms to BS 3621; the standard of lock required by most home insurance providers. This could cost around £30 per lock. If you have any external doors that you don’t use very often, you can just add deadbolts onto these to prevent anyone from getting in from the outside.
Make sure your doors are strong – it’s all very well installing secure locks on your front and back door, but if the doors themselves aren’t stable, they won’t prevent burglars from getting in. Replace any fragile doors, especially if the wood has become rotten and will easily cave in under pressure.
Assess entrances from the outside – stand outside your house and try to look at it from a potential intruder’s perspective. Look for any obvious ways in to the property, such as a bathroom window that doesn’t shut, or a broken garage door, and get them fixed. If there aren’t any easy ways in, burglars may be put off.
Put in a security light – although two-thirds of thefts from homes happen in the daytime when the property is empty, you can help to prevent intruders at night time by installing a motion-sensor security light that will turn on if anyone comes into your garden or onto your driveway – you can pick one of these up for under £15. You could also put in a gravel path so that anyone trying to get into your house won’t be able to go unheard. If you’ve already got a path in place, you can get a bag of gravel for £40 from B&Q. However, if you’re planning to lay the path from scratch, it could cost you quite a bit more to excavate the area and lay down stone foundations and edging.
Hide your keys – don’t leave your house or car keys where someone could see them, such as near a window, as someone could easily smash it to get them. You should also avoid hiding the spare key in an obvious place, like under the mat or a flowerpot near the door, as thieves may check here first.
Padlock your shed – it’s not just your house that burglars could look to break into; you also need to make sure you lock your shed or garage, especially if you keep items of value in here, such as a bike. You should also consider locking your ladder in place if you have one, as a thief may use this as a handy way to get into your upstairs rooms. Good padlocks are relatively cheap to buy and can be picked up from your local DIY store for around £10.
Put a peephole into your front door – if you’re not expecting a visitor and you’re home alone, it can be scary to open the door if the bell rings and you don’t know who it is. Installing a peephole or chain on your front door can help you to vet callers so you don’t have to let anyone in you don’t want to. You can buy a basic door viewer for around £6 and a door chain costs only £4. The only DIY skills you need to install both is how to work a drill, but if you’re not confident, get an expert to do it for you.
Mark your expensive belongings with a UV pen mark – valuable items such as gadgets or family heirlooms can be marked discreetly with a UV pen so the mark won’t show unless it’s under a special light. You can buy one of these for under £2 from Amazon. Write your name and address on your valuables and it could help the police recover your items if they’re ever stolen.
Don’t post about family outings on social media – use your common sense and don’t advertise when your home is empty, such as if the family is out for the night, or you’re going away for a few days. Thieves can search Facebook or Twitter and look for opportune times when they’ll be able to get into properties, so make sure you’re not advertising when your home is free.
Add trellis to the top of your fence – if you already have a good fence, adding trellis on top of the panels will help to make your fence higher. This could put some thieves off, as it may seem too difficult to get into your property. However, a high solid fence could provide a burglar some cover to hide behind from any neighbours, so the see-through trellis makes for the perfect compromise. You can get basic square trellis for £10 per panel, so depending on the size of your garden, work out if this is an affordable option.
Prep for your holiday – when you’re going to be away for a few days, remember to cancel your milk or newspaper delivery and leave your lights on timers. It’s important to make it look like someone’s in your house, or thieves could be tipped off to break in. You can get a light timer for £5, and if you’re just leaving one or two lights on for a few hours a day, it shouldn’t cost you too much in electricity bills.
Optional security extras – if you’re looking for a higher level of security, you might want to consider installing a few basic security cameras on the outside of your property. You’ll be able to monitor anyone trying to get into your house and, in the event of a break-in, you’ll be able to have something to show to the police. You could also look at more sophisticated alarm systems with sensors that set off a siren when your door is opened; prices for these start at £99.