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Make sure your home is secure

Latest Home Office figures suggest a 6% annual rise in UK burglaries – so how secure do you feel in your home?

It’s a sobering thought that houses with no security measures are five times more likely to be broken into than those with basic security measures. Here’s some simple safety advice to help you wise up and stay one step ahead. 

Tool yourself up
With most burglaries, the point of entry is through a door or window, so it’s vital these are strong and secure. Locked uPVC windows are a great deterrent and double glazing in itself provides an added layer of robustness that can foil burglars. A strong door is essential and composite doors, which have reinforced strength, offer excellent security. But you still need professional hardware to thwart determined burglars, so check that your doors are equipped with the latest in high-security, multi-point door locks – both of which come as standard from any Independent Network installer and many will conform to the Secured By Design official Police security initiative that is recognised by the Association of British Insurers.

Use scare tactics
Thieves are devious so before attempting a break-in, they’ll weigh up the risks against the possible rewards and if your home looks well protected, they’ll move on to an easier target. CCTV cameras are the best deterrent, followed by the sound of a barking dog. If you don’t have the real thing, an electronic barking dog alarm activated by motion sensors may be a worthwhile investment. Installing motion-activated security lights and a visible burglar alarm will also create double trouble for any would-be villain.

Don’t make it easy
As often as not, burglars will rely on tools they find at the scene so keep ladders and any DIY kit stored away. Garages and sheds usually contain all that’s needed to carry out a break-in so make sure all your outbuildings are secured with good locks. Keep the fences surrounding your garden in good condition and padlock any side gates to prevent access to the rear of your property.

Out of sight, out of swag bag…
Many thieves are opportunists and break in on the basis of what they can see through your window or letterbox, so hide valuables out of sight. Store any high-value items, such as jewellery, passports or large sums of cash, in a properly secured safe or a bank vault. And if a burglar does gain access, the last thing you want to do is offer an easy getaway, so hide all car keys (and any other keys) in a safe place.

Good neighbours
When it comes to keeping thieves at bay, your best weapon is closer than you think. Ask a trusted neighbour to keep an eye on your property when you’re at work. And while you’re on holiday, they can help create the impression that someone’s at home at all times by opening and closing curtains, turning lights on and off and checking that mail isn’t accumulating. Failing that, you could use lighting timers and a fake TV intruder deterrent that switches on automatically at dusk. Also, why not consider joining – or forming – a Neighbourhood Watch scheme.

Don’t be fooled
Theft by deception is becoming increasingly common. If you have a caller and suspect they may be bogus, don’t let them in – especially if you’re at home on your own. Check the identity of the caller by phoning the organisation they are claiming to be from, whether they say they’re a utilities worker, council official or even someone supposedly from the emergency services. If in doubt, close the door, call 999 and ask for the police.

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