Home security tips from an expert

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We may be spending more time than usual at home, but that doesn’t mean our properties are entirely free from the threat of thefts.

Home security is still important, especially coming into the summer months, when doors and windows may be left open and high-value items left out in the garden.

So what do you need to know? Here, Izzy Schulman, a locksmith, offers seven tips.

1. Reinforce the front door

“With 74 per cent of burglars breaking in through the front door, this should be your first port of call for home security improvements. Locks and security screens should be installed to deter thieves,” says Mr Schulman.

“However, there are further precautions you can take. Fitting a spy hole to your front door deters potential intruders and fixing a latch chain will add an extra layer of security if someone tries to force their way in. Both of these are simple to fit with a drill.

“For added peace of mind, consider fitting a London bar to your door. The steel bar fits onto your door frame and around the rim lock, providing sturdier resistance if someone tries to kick in your door. As there are so many brands and sizes of rim locks available, London bars aren’t customised to your door – so you just need to measure the size of your rim lock to make sure the model you buy will fit over it. They can then be secured to your door frame using a drill and screws.”

2. Safeguard windows

“Windows are another common entry point for intruders. So make sure to keep all windows locked when you’re not in the room to keep watch. For added protection, installing window bars or restrictors can stop burglars gaining access. While it’s possible to install window bars yourself, cable window restrictors are a more subtle alternative for the home. They can be drilled into the window frame, letting you get some fresh air without leaving you open to intruders,” he says.

“Lining vulnerable windows with a shatter-proof film adds an extra protective layer. They fit effortlessly on glass panels with an adhesive layer and hold the glass in place if it smashes, keeping burglars out.”

3. Invest in a home security system

“If you don’t already have a home security system, consider installing one. Even the sight of one alone can prevent a burglar from chancing their luck. If you’re opting for a CCTV system, consider which area it should cover,” suggests Mr Schulman. “It’s recommended to position your cameras towards valuables like cars, or to capture weak spots around the home. A larger lens has a longer zoom but is not as wide, so consider the shape of your garden or driveway.

“And these days there are plenty of economical alternatives to traditional home security systems, like smart doorbells, which record footage of your driveway. These are easier to install, with most models simply connecting to your existing doorbell system.”

4. Keep existing security systems clean

“According to ex-offenders, burglars are more likely to attempt a break-in if they believe a system looks ‘old and battered’,” says Mr Schulman.

“Give your smart doorbell a dusting down and wipe down your alarm box and CCTV systems with a damp cloth to leave them looking new – and show potential intruders you’re hot on home security.”

5. Garden watch

“Burglars aim to get in and out of each home as quickly as possible, without getting caught. They’ll often scout out homes for a few days to find the easiest entry points and track the behaviour patterns of homeowners – so an overgrown garden gives them the perfect place to hide out undetected while they watch your property,” says Mr Schulman.

“Cut down overgrown trees and trim back bushes, removing any shaded or covered areas that aren’t visible from your windows, where criminals can move around your property unseen. Many of us leave valuable items lying around the garden, which can also be a target for thieves,” he adds. “Garden furniture, decorations and equipment can often be found unguarded in gardens.”

6. Keep it locked up
“Make sure all valuables, like bicycles and garden tools, are stored away each night in a locked shed or garage. While a standard bolt and hardened steel padlock are difficult to break, if you’re storing higher-value items, getting a deadlock or smart lock – which requires a corresponding fob or up to a 20-digit code to open – fitted to your garden gate or shed will offer greater peace of mind. However, it may require you to replace your garden gate or shed door to make sure it’s compatible.

“It’s also recommended to add motion-sensor lighting in the garden to scare off burglars who act under the cover of darkness. Installing a motion sensor light requires some wiring but it’s a simple job if you have existing floodlights,” he adds. “Then, choose the distance you want the sensor to cover depending on the size of the blind spots around your home. Plus, adding gravel or small stone features around your property may also deter intruders, with the sound of crunching stones underfoot giving them away.”

7. The first line of defence
Use real or perceived barriers to discourage intruders. Real barriers include a picket fence, a brick wall or a hedge. Perceived barriers can be created by a flower garden or a change in level or design between the public space of a footpath and private front yard.

“Wooden garden fences and sheds are prone to rotting if the wood isn’t treated regularly, and this can make it easier for potential intruders to access your property,” says Mr Schulman.

“Now the weather’s nicer, it’s time to get outside and treat any wooden panels or fences to prevent rotting. Coating fences and sheds in weatherproof stain or paint should do the trick, protecting the wood from the elements and preventing them from cracking or breaking.

“It’s then recommended to top up wood panels every two years to keep them looking and feeling new. However, those with south-facing gardens should consider treating panels more often, as sunlight is also known to damage wood.”

Do you have a home security system or a smart doorbell? Do you think it’s worth investing some time and money in extra home security?

– With PA

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