Keep your home safe from thieves

Being a victim of a burglary or break-in can be a hugely traumatising experience. We all want to feel safe and secure when we’re at home.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways you can protect your home from opportunists and thieves – the first step in crime prevention is knowing your options.

Rethink your locks
A weak door gives thieves an easy point of entry, so adding a second lock can enhance your security.

Security expert Michael Fraser says: “Most people only use a cylinder lock on their door, which isn’t very secure. Doors should ideally have a cylinder lock and deadlock, and both should be used together for maximum security.”

It can take just 10 seconds for a thief to ‘snap’ a cylinder lock (the process of breaking and manipulating it to gain entry), so think twice about how you lock up your property while you’re out and about.

Secure the windows
Windows are also a key entry point for burglars.

Read: Home security on a budget

While your windows might already have locks, additional window locks offer extra security and if you’re on the ground floor or basement level, you might want to consider adding window bars. If you’re unsure about which locks are best suited for your windows, seek advice from a locksmith.

Let there be light
Motion-sensing lights can be a cheap and easy way to deter would-be thieves.

“Exterior lights fitted near the entrances to your home will automatically activate if someone approaches the property – not only does this provide an opportunity to alert you or a neighbour of trespassers, it’s also likely to spook opportunist thieves into trying their luck elsewhere,” says Mr Fraser.

“Interior motion-sensing lights are also an option and work in the same way as an outdoor floodlight. Simply screw a special motion-sensing bulb into a lamp or light source near your home’s entrances that will alert you if there’s any movement near your doors or windows.”

Set up a home security system
Home security technology is making surveillance more affordable and accessible than ever, and you don’t need to pay a security company to watch your patch while you’re away.

Doorbell cams can help you keep track of who’s outside your property. When someone presses the doorbell, no matter where you are, an alert will be sent to your smartphone so that you always know who’s at your house.

Read: Home security tips for travellers

Often just the sight of outdoor cameras can deter thieves. There are a range of smart CCTV systems available giving you plenty of options.

Many products can now send an alert to your smartphone when they pick up motion in your house while you’re not there – sending you clear footage of the incident. Some even have microphones that listen out for sounds like glass being broken.

Lock down your wifi details
Your wifi router can also be vulnerable to thieves who want to capture your data and passwords to gain access to financial information. To make your router secure, it’s advisable to change your router username and password, using a combination of letters and symbols. You should also change your generic network name, as it gives thieves information about the type of router you’re using, which they can exploit to get access.

We also recommend making sure your router firewall is enabled, as this adds a first-line defence against potential digital attacks. You can do this by entering your router’s IP address into a web browser (it should be detailed on the router box), logging in and changing the security settings.

Keep your valuables out of sight
Keeping your blinds open in the day with a tempting view of laptops, tablets and expensive jewellery makes it easier for a burglar to scout out your home.

Read: How to make your home more secure

“The best way to keep your valuable possessions safe from prying eyes is to make sure nobody even knows they’re there for the taking,” says Mr Fraser. “Leaving expensive items like jewellery, electronics or cash in plain sight makes your home a much bigger target for thieves, as you’re guaranteeing there’s something worth stealing on your property.”

The same can be said of leaving our digital footprint wide open too. “Burglaries are often strategically planned and social media is the perfect way to gain insight into your life,” says security expert Tom Tahany. “It goes without saying that you should be careful about sharing where you live, but sharing your location whilst you’re out can identify you as a target, so be sure to check your privacy settings before posting.”

Do you have a home security system or smart doorbell? If so, why not share your recommendations with our readers in the comments section below?

– With PA

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