Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Beat the burglars

The warmer weather Britain has been basking in over recent days sadly has a down side; it causes us to become careless with our home security – windows get left open, curtains aren’t closed as early and doors can be left open for long periods of time as we try, often in vain, to cool the house down. The increase in carelessness often leads to an increase in burglaries.
Did you know that in 2010/11, there were 452,000 reported domestic burglaries (with entry) and a further 293,000 attempted domestic burglaries? #saywhat! Most are carried out on the spur of the moment by opportunist thieves, which certainly rings true during warmer weather, as it only takes a window to be left open and a thief can be in and out again, with your valuables in tow, in no time.

Trust me, I know.

In the summer of 2008, my home was broken into as Hubs and I slept. Thankfully nothing of sentimental value was stolen and we had insurance.

We weren't so lucky second time around.

In February 2010, we were broken into again; this time the scumbags broke our kitchen window in the middle of the day, in broad daylight and because we were out at work and the police didn't respond to our neighbour's phone call, they had hours to route through our home, and our possessions, and take what they wanted. This time, instead of quickly taking our TV and a few DVDs, they had the time to take their time and take whatever they could carry, which turned out to be jewellery, a camera and video camera, coats (?), pillow cases and a games console and games, plus other things I've probably forgotten about. To say Hubs and I were devastated was an understatement. Thankfully, we had insurance and managed to replace most of the items; however, some things had sentimental value and simply could not be replaced.

Sadly, insurance seems to be one of the first things to go when families are trying to tighten purse strings, however, this is false economy, as replacing your belongings WILL cost you thousands. We would not have been able to replace half the things stolen had we not had insurance.

Everybody, whether in owned or rented accommodation, needs contents insurance, but homeowners need the added security of buildings insurance – renters check your landlord has this too. The best policies give ‘unlimited contents cover’, meaning if you were robbed of everything, your insurance would cover it. It can be cheaper and more cost affective for some people to work out how much the contents of their property is worth and have ‘fixed-priced’ cover – however, remember that replacing all your CDs, DVDs and even clothes can cost more than you think to replace!

If you’re a fan of groovy gadgets, make sure you increase the ‘single item limit’ to ensure digital camera, TVs, jewellery, and even antique furniture is covered. You’ll also need to make sure that your insurance policy covers you if items are stolen away from home (i.e. on holiday), or from outbuildings; this is especially important if you have an expensive lawnmower or holiday a lot.

We now have a monitored alarm fitted and, while it may have cost £500 to install plus a monthly payment of £26, the peace of mind it has given us over the past five years is truly priceless. 

To help you avoid the same fate I suffered, here are my top tips for keeping your home, 
and your possessions, safe...

Locks 

  • Window locks are relatively inexpensive but once installed, especially on older windows, will help to stop people getting in, as well as serving as a deterrent to any would-be burglar.
  • Deadlocks fitted to outside doors make it difficult for a thief to gain entry to your property, as well as making it harder for them to get out. Aspire recommends five-lever mortise deadlocks with the BS3621 Kitemark, which ensures strength and quality.
  • Sliding patio doors should have anti-lift devices and locks fitted, top and bottom, to stop them being opened from the outside. If you have French doors, don’t leave the key in the door, even if it’s locked – burglars will seize any opportunity. 
  • Visible burglar alarms and security lighting are great deterrents, but it’s courteous (to your neighbours) to ensure that alarms shut off after 20 minutes and that lights do not disturb.
  • A CCTV system might seem like a step too far, but if burglaries are on the rise in your area, they could save you falling victim – there are numerous, easy-to-install models on the market that are discreet, connecting to your TV via a scart socket.
  • Get an inexpensive ‘spy hole’ fitted to your front door so you can see who’s there before you open it. Also, invest in a door chain; this will allow you to open the door slightly to callers without letting them in.

Valuables

  • TVs, stereos and other valuables are attractive to thieves, especially if they are visible form outside. Try to ensure valuables can not be seen through windows, and when buying new items, don’t leave the empty boxes on display near your bins.
  • It’s always a good idea to draw curtains once the light fades to avoid giving passers-by a free look at all your belongings.
  • Outside, your shed is probably brimming with expensive equipment, from lawnmowers and strimmers to BBQs and garden furniture, you’ll need a strong padlock to keep your shed secure.
  • Another way to keep prying eyes away from your valuables is by planting a selection of thorny bushes and prickly plants planted near to potential access routes. These are not only a visual deterrent, but also a physical barrier to intruders.

While You’re Out

  • Why not invest in timer switches for lights, radios or other electrical items if you’re out of the house for the majority of the day. However, be careful not to use too many downstairs as it can show a potential burglar that you’re actually out!
  • When you go out, make sure you lock your doors and close your windows (front and back, upstairs and down), even if you’re only going out for a short time – it can take a thief just five minutes to break in, steal property and leave
  • Remember, when you go away on holiday, cancel all milk and paper deliveries and don’t put your home address on the luggage tag of your suitcase on the return leg of your journey.
  • Another tip for protecting your home whilst you’re away on holiday is to cut your lawns before you go, as overgrown lawns and gardens are a sure sign that no-one’s home.
  • ‘Hiding’ spare keys outside your home is an open invitation to thieves. Avoid leaving keys outside of your home. If you really need to have a spare key in case of emergencies, why not ask a trusted neighbour or friend to look after it for you.

  • Finally, postcoding your property can deter burglars as it makes it hard to sell on. The police have a much better chance of returning property to you following a burglary if it’s postcoded.

In an EMERGENCY (when life is in danger or a crime is being committed), dial 999.
If you have information about a crime, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this reminder! With a little one on the way security has been at the front of my mind. Sorry to hear about your incidences with burglars! Jerks.

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