How to prevent a burglary
Regrettably, many of us will experience the heartache of being burgled at some point in our lives. However, there are steps that can be taken to secure your home against burglars and other undesirables. Simon Lamble, product director at Confused.com – the UK’s leading insurance price comparison service – comments on the British Crime Survey’s (BCS) burglary findings
“Although it is good news that there have been no real rise in the level of UK burglaries between 2006/2007 and 2007/2008, it is important not to rest on our laurels, as 729,000 burglaries are still taking place annually.
“The fact that homes with no security measures are ten times (25%) more likely to be burgled than homes with simple security measures (2%), such as deadlocks, should be taken on-board by those who are leaving themselves vulnerable to theft and criminal damage. Confused.com would advise that robust security and preventative measures are taken at all times – advice which is clearly not being heeded, as almost one third (31%) of homeowners still do not have burglar alarms fitted to their homes.*
“Despite the fact that 2.4% of households still experience once or more burglaries every year, home contents insurance is not a legal requirement. However, it should be considered an absolute necessity, as by failing to insure their home contents Britons are potentially setting themselves up for a large bill, not to mention emotional turmoil, should they be unfortunate enough to suffer any loss or damage.
“Shopping around for home insurance using a price comparison site could help consumers to make significant savings, never mind the peace of mind that the cover will bring. In fact, Confused.com found that the average home insurance saving, per customer using the site, was £193.81.”
According to Home Office statistics, most burglaries are carried out by opportunistic thieves, and in one out of five burglaries it wasn’t even necessary to use force. With this in mind, it’s probably an idea to fortify your windows and doors, and keep any entry points in good condition.
Five-lever mortise deadlocks (British Standard BS3621) are recommended for external doors. Deadlocks can only be opened with a key, which is helpful for two reasons. Firstly, a burglar who breaks a door panel in an attempt to unlock the door from the inside will be unsuccessful. Secondly, a burglar who gets in through a window will not be able to walk stolen items out of that door. External doors should be certified to PAS 24-1 standard and at least 44mm thick.
Key-operated locks are recommended for accessible windows. Don’t forget that windows are also accessible if near to a drainpipe or flat roof. Windows should be certified to British Standard BS7950. If there are any particularly vulnerable windows, then replacing them with laminated glass will make them tougher to break.
It is wise to ensure that front doors have a door viewer, so that you can check to see who is calling. It’s not a bad idea to have a door chain too, so that you can safely check the ID of any callers who you are uncertain about letting into your house.
Fit an alarm
Recommended alarms include those that are NACOSS (National Approval Council for Security Systems) or SSAIB (Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board) approved.
Installing a sturdy safe in which to keep valuables and irreplaceable items is by no means a terrible idea. This can give you extra peace of mind when away on holiday, for example. There is no need to break the bank either – it is possible to buy small safes for as little as £20 from vendors such as Argos.
Everybody needs good neighbours
If there is a neighbourhood watch scheme in your area, then it might be an idea to join it. Hopefully placing a sticker in your window might act as a deterrent, and could possibly reduce your home insurance premium too.
Seem at home whilst away
The lion’s share of burglaries happen when the house or flat in question is empty. For this reason, if you can take steps to make it seem like you’re at home when you’re away, then do.
You could get a timer to turn on lights at night, or even open the curtains during the day. If you get milk or papers delivered to your house, then be sure to cancel them during your absence. If you can get a trusted friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your place whilst you’re away, all the better.
In case the worst does happen, you will thank yourself afterwards for having taken out adequate contents cover on your home insurance. Why not make a comprehensive list of the items you are covering? It’s worth keeping the receipts for these items where possible.
It’s also not a bad idea to take digital photos of individual items as proof for your insurance company in the event of a claim. Don’t forget you can probably do this with your mobile phone too.
Also, a welcome corollary of fitting alarms, extra locks and stepping up security in your house is that you may well reduce your home insurance premium, as your insurer will perceive that your risk of being burgled is diminished.