MAKING YOUR HOME SAFE
Making Your Home Safe
Once you have spent money on your home and its contents you want it safe from break-ins. Here is what you should do.
Business is booming for today's burglars. Today they are not necessarily all hard-nosed professionals but frequently children who seize the opportunity presented by an unlocked door or a window left ajar. Home security is thus vitally important if you recall the sobering thought that someone is burgled every 30 seconds.
Some of the things you should do to discourage burglars are pure common sense such as not leaving a note for the milkman saying away till Friday and not leaving the front door key on a string woman to let herself in. Others are practical, positive measures which you can take to prevent any would be thief from being successful. While it's true that a determined thief can get in anywhere he is only likely to persevere if he knows you have got a priceless Old Master on your wall or a cache of fabulous jewels under the mattress. If he is just after cash and valuables that are lying around, he is likely to be deterred by security measures and move on to somewhere that is less well protected.
Different types of home need different protection and your lifestyle will also determine such facts as whether or not you need a burglar alarm. To find out just what would be best for you, get in touch with the Crime Prevention Officer at your local police station. He will visit your home and explain to you the weak points in your security and what you should do to improve them. You do not pay for this service and it is time well spent.
Door And Window Locks
All outside doors should have really strong locks. Even if the existing locks in your new home are satisfactory, it's none the less sensible to change them. You can't sure how many keys the previous owner had in circulation; fit your own locks and eliminate one possible source of trouble. If the doors themselves are in poor condition or have a lot of glass that, if broken would allow access, fit new ones.
Each door should be secured with a lock that complies at least with BS 3621 (Specification for Thief-Resistant Locks) and has five levers. These are known as mortise or surface rim locks and should be the deadlock type. They re operated by a key. It is sensible also to have a night latch-which is a rim lock with a spring-operated latch. Some firms will arrange operated latch. Some firms will arrange to have your keys registered against your signature o that nobody else can get a set. This means you cannot have new keys cut by anyone other than the manufacturer but is a useful security measure.
On lightweight doors which open outwards it's easy for an intruder to break in on the hinged side, either by using brute force or by knocking out the centre pin of the exposed hang. Overcome this possibility by fitting hang bolts at the top and bottom of the door. These will project and lock into the framework when the door is closed so that it can't be forced or lifted off.
French doors are particularly vulnerable and need to be secured with mortise lock and mortise bolts at the top and bottom of the doors. With metal frames you may need to fit lockable surface bolts which probably have to be installed professionally. With sliding patio doors, fit locks which screw to the frame of the door tracks. This is necessary in addition to the locks with which they come fitted even if they are high security type.
Front doors should in addition be fitted with a chain or bar which allows the doors to be opened a few inches so that you can speak with a caller and check who it is. If you don't like opening the door until you know who there install a spy hole there is one on the market that lets you talk to callers as well as see them.
Windows vary from home to home so it's impossible to be specific about what type of lock should be fitted. The Crime Prevention Officer will be able to advise you. Most window locks are sold as being suitable for a particular type of window be it casement, sash or sliding. Window locks have a key or other opening device which should be kept reasonably near so that they can be opened and shut easily, but out of view of a passing burglar who could break the glass and use the key to open the lock. Louver windows are easily forced so either glue the glass blades to the end sections, fit bars across the frame or fit a special type of louver with built-in security fitting.
In high risk areas it may be suggested that you install window grilles or shutters. Make sure that these comply with the fire regulation so that you can escape in an emergency.
Burglar alarms can act as a deterrent. It's essential however that they are properly installed and don't go off unnecessarily so that your neighbors get used to the sound and take no notice of it. The most expensive types are wired up to the local police station so that when they sound the police are sent to investigate.
You can have your alarm installed professionally or fit a DIY model yourself. It's difficult to assess the cost of a professional installation since the amount of wiring number of pressure padre and so on will vary according to the size and layout of your home. Do it yourself alarm systems are fairly basic and usually include a control unit alarm contacts for doors and windows pressure pads and a panic button which you fit by the bed or the front door.
Whichever type of alarm you install you must remember to set it when you go out, and have it fused in a position that allows you enough time when you come into the house to switch it off before the alarm sounds.
Home safes are becoming increasingly popular as places to store valuable items and documents. Apart from being difficult for burglars to break into they also protect things from flood and fire. While it is possible to install a home safe yourself it's quite difficult to fix it securely and correctly so it can't be removed lock, stock and barrel. Safes are fitted either into walls out under the floor and most reputable firms have accredited installers.
Look As If You Are In
One way of deterring would be burglars is to make it appear that someone is at home. You can do this by using time switches to activate lights the radio or television. You can also fit light seniors which switch lights on automatically when it gets dark and turn theme off again when it's light. For the very rich there is also the possibility of installing electrically operated curtains which can be put on a time switch.
Know Your Own
It's a help for the police if you can recognize items which have been stolen. After all one television looks much like another. With small and unusual items it's a good idea to take a photograph and keep it somewhere safe, possibly even in your bank. Large items can be either marked with an anti theft pen which shows up only under ultra violet light or be engraved with your name and postcode using special tool.
What ever precautions you take to make your home secure, above all be sensible. Lock outside doors even if you are only slipping across the road to post a letter.
Don't leave the back door open on a sunny day if you are going to be upstairs for any length of time. Don't leave cash window where it can be seen.
When you go away ask your neighbors to keep an eye on your home and if possible to go in every date and remove letters and circulars from your mat so that anyone looking through the letterbox doesn't get a clue that you are away. Never never leave your house keys under the mat, in a shed or anywhere they could be found. Either give a spare set to whoever needs it or lodge one with a reliable neighbor.