There is a wealth of excellent advice on basic home security and property protection available online. The following article, originally published by Which? offers good, practical advice for protecting what’s yours:

Every home should have at least the basics of good security. It doesn’t cost much compared to the expense and trauma of being burgled – dealing with the police, clearing up, even redecorating, the time you’ll spend justifying what you’ve lost to the insurance company and then shopping for replacements. Here are some cost-effective ways to protect your home.

Windows

Fit key-operated window locks to all easy-to-reach windows, such as those at ground floor or near a drainpipe or flat roof. Make sure locks meet British Standard BS7950.

Fit a secondary lock to windows that open more than 60cm high or wide, such as sash windows or those that have a big enough opening for a person to escape during a fire. If you have sash windows, get sash stops, which allow the windows to rise only a small distance.

If you can, replace the glass in easy-to-access windows with laminated glass, or get a film that can cover and protect your current glass. It’s much harder to break and will really put burglars off.

Property tips

  • It’s easy to go all out to make your home as secure as possible, but make sure that you balance your home’s security against the need to escape – or be rescued – from a fire
  • Make sure you create a ‘pattern’ with your appliances and timer switches. For example, the TV goes off at night when the light and radio goes on upstairs
  • When fitting a lock to a window or door, use the strongest screws you can, not necessarily the ones supplied, and make sure they are all to British Standard BS7950
  • Make sure you also have the keys to the locks hidden away, so you and not the burglar can find them

Even if they try, it will just crack, much like a car windscreen.

Doors

Ensure the doorframes and doors are solid. Your external doors should be at least 4.4cm thick.

Make sure all door locks meet British Standard PAS 24-1 (Doors of Enhanced Security). All external doors (including those that open onto the garden) must have five-lever mortise deadlocks (check for the Kitemark, BS3621). These aren’t cheap, but are worth it – and your insurance company will expect you to have them fitted.

When fitting window or door locks, use the strongest screws you can, not necessarily the ones that are supplied. Keep the keys out of sight, so a burglar can’t find them.

Look at fitting door security bolts to all external doors, and to rooms with expensive equipment such as an office, dark room or hobby room. These are thick steel or brass bolts, fitted at the top and bottom of the door (or window) to secure it more strongly to the frame.

There’s little point making your doors and windows burglar-proof if you then leave them wide open. Most criminals gain entry this way, so make sure you shut them when you are out of the room.

Fit a security chain or a door guard (a fixed steel or brass bar). Make sure you that you keep this on when you are inside the home. This prevents an opportunistic burglar nipping in and taking things fast when you are upstairs or in the garden.

A peephole or viewer allows you to see who is outside your door. You can add one to an existing door (use a specialist if you have a PVC-U door).

Keep the chain or door guard on when you open the door and check the credentials of any callers who claim to be from utility companies or official organisations. Ask for their ID before you allow them in. Check the card for dates and information – if you are suspicious, ring the company (look up the number from the phonebook, don’t rely on the card) to make sure they are who they say they are.

Outside

  • Put down gravel around the outside of the property – it makes a lot of noise when people walk on it and burglars like to be quiet.
  • Fit outside lights that come on when someone passes, especially against easy entry points, such as front doors. They need to be out of reach of any thieves as far as possible, so fit them over 2m high.
  • Put up trellis around fencing so that it is harder for anyone to clamber over – especially if you grow thorny climbing roses.
  • Fit strong padlocks to all outside areas such as sheds, and even bars across the windows so that burglars can’t get in.

Inside

Use timers on your lighting, to give the impression that every room is occupied. There are sophisticated timers that vary when they switch on according to the amount of daylight and switch on and off intermittently. There are even ones that allow you to phone in when you are out and switch the lights on.

Choose TVs, radios and other appliances that have the facility to switch themselves on and off at times you would normally be home.

Create a pattern with your appliances and timer switches. For example, the TV goes off at night when the light and radio go on upstairs.

Keep any important documents or valuables in a safe that is secured to the property in some way – otherwise a burglar will just run off with it to open at his leisure. You can also use products that are disguised as books or tins of spaghetti and so on.

Property mark all your belongings, especially your valuables, so they can be traced if they are stolen. Your options include pens with ink that shows up under ultraviolet light or smart water. It takes minutes to do. Marking can cost from £40 upwards but is free in some areas, depending on local initiatives – ask your police station.

Make sure that you balance security against the need to escape from a fire. If no-one can get in, how will you get out? Work out a plan.

Originally found at this location.