1. Lock doors and windows
It is crucial that you lock all doors and windows every time you leave your home, even if you are only out in the garden for a short period. Most thieves are opportunistic, aiming to get in and out of a property as quickly as possible, so this is the first and most important step in deterring a break in. Some tenants living above the ground or first floor can be lulled into a false sense of security and leave windows and doors open, however, your property is only one floor above the balcony below so always lock balcony doors and windows when you are out.
Even when you are at home it is a good idea to keep all doors securely locked, especially at night when you are sleeping. Someone could enter your home and leave with your belongings in seconds, without you hearing anything from another room.
2. Use all locks for maximum security
Although it can be tempting to only use the Yale lock, it only takes a few extra seconds to ensure that all the locks on the door are secure when leaving your property. Using all locks – not just the Yale – adds an extra layer of security for your home, making it a less attractive prospect for anyone looking to gain entry.
For those living in a flat, always close the main door to the building behind you, and only provide access to people that you know.
3. Hide keys out of sight
It is important to consider where you keep your keys when you are at home. Keys should be kept out of sight of ground floor windows and away from the letterbox where they could be ‘fished’ out by intruders. However, keys should always be easily accessible and in a place where everyone in your home knows where to find them the event of an emergency. It may seem obvious, but remember to never label your keys with your address.
Car keys are especially attractive to burglars so should be kept hidden in a safe place away from windows.
4. Don’t let post or leaflets build up
Nothing advertises to passers-by that a property is vacant more than a growing pile of post and leaflets through the door. If you are away, ask a neighbour or friend to collect post regularly.
5. Consider using a timer for lights
If you are going on holiday, or are regularly away from home during the evening, using a timer to turn your lights on and off can be a cheap and effective way to keep your home safe. Setting a light to come on around an hour before it gets dark can give the illusion that someone is at home. There are several apps available to control lighting remotely when you are away from home.
6. Remove any valuables from sight
A quick look through a ground floor window may be the deciding factor in whether or not your property is a worthwhile target. Don’t give thieves motivation by leaving valuables such as laptops or tablets in sight, move all valuables away from windows before you go out for the day.
7. Keep bushes and trees trimmed
Burglars love privacy. By keeping windows, porches and doors clear of overhanging bushes and trees you can create a clear line of sight from the street to your property. This encourages natural surveillance, allowing neighbours and passers-by to see your property clearly, making your home a much less appealing target to opportunistic thieves.
It is important to keep your garden generally well maintained by keeping the grass short and weeds to a minimum, an unkept garden suggests that a property is temporarily unoccupied or that the occupiers may be lax on security.
8. Don’t leave ladders or tools lying around
Opportunistic thieves rarely carry tools, they rely on finding useful implements lying around. Leaving out ladders or tools that can be used to gain access can make your home an easy target. Also ensure that any garages or sheds where tools may be stored are secure at all times.
9. Don’t advertise your belongings
Be mindful of how you recycle or dispose of packaging outside your home. Discarded packaging for the latest gadgets and electrical items can alert passers-by to what items you have inside your home, making it a target. This issue is particularly prevalent around Christmas time.
Similarly, it is important not to advertise belongings or travel plans on social media. You don’t know who could be monitoring public social media networks so it is best to be cautious.
10. Get to know your neighbours
Crime tends to be lower in areas with close-knit communities because neighbours are more likely to look out for each other and can easily spot a stranger. Neighbours may also be at home at times when you are at work so can be alert you to suspicious activity when you are not there.