Almost half of all burglaries happen when a flat or house is empty. Here are some simple tips that may help to make your home more secure while you are away.
Before You Go On Holiday
- Make your home look like someone is living in it. Closing your curtains during the day may show that the house is empty. Use automatic timer-switches to turn your lights on when it goes dark.
- Cancel any milk or newspaper deliveries.
- Avoid discussing or publishing holiday plans where strangers may hear details of your absence from home or read about it on social networking sites such as Facebook.
- Cut the lawn before you go and trim back any plants that burglars could hide behind.
- Uncollected mail is a sign that you are away. The Royal Mail's 'Keepsafe' service will keep your mail for up to 2 months while you are away.
- Consider leaving important documents and valuable items with other family members or a bank. Or lock them in a safe.
- Do not put your home address on your luggage when you are travelling to your holiday destination.
- If you normally leave valuable pedal cycles or similar items in your shed, consider putting them in the house.
- Finally make sure that you have locked all outside doors and windows and if you have a burglar alarm, make sure it is set.
Just before you set off, it's worth spending a couple of minutes checking that you've done all you had to do and taken everything you need with you.
General Tips On Home Security
Fit mortice locks (Kitemarked BS 3621) and/or bolts to all outside doors and locks to all downstairs or accessible windows.
- Have an approved alarm system installed. Ask your local Police and insurance company for advice.
- Try not to leave valuable items like your TV, Hi-Fi, DVD player where thieves can see them.
- Mark belongings visibly and permanently with your post code and house number.
- Keep a list of the Make, Model and serial number of these items and take photos of any valuables that cannot be marked, like jewellery. Give copies of the list to a trusted friend or relative.
- Ask at your local Police Station for advice on how to get 'postcoded property' stickers that you could put in your windows.
- Make sure that you have up to date contents and property insurance.
- Most burglars get in through a back door or window. Make it difficult for them by locking all side and back gates and adding trellis to the top of walls and fences. Fit lights that com on at night to cover the sides and back of your house.
- Put all your tools away so they cannot be used to break into your house and lock your garage and shed with proper security locks. If you have to leave your ladder out, put it on its side and lock it to a secure fixture with 'close shackle' padlock or heavy duty chain.
It's a good idea to get help from your neighbours. You could ask them to collect post, sweep up leaves, mow the lawn, open and close curtains, and so on. They could even occasionally park their car on your driveway. Anything to make the place look lived in.
Warn your neighbours not to put your surname, address or even your house number on your keys in case they fall into the wrong hands.
Let your neighbour know when you will be away and, if you can, give them details so that they can contact you, or someone who can act on your behalf in case of an emergency.
Is there a Neighbourhood Watch scheme where you live?
Your local Police will tell you if there is a scheme in your area or help you set one up. Or you can look on the internet at www.neighbourhoodwatch.net. It could help you make your home more secure while you're away, and has many other crime reduction and community benefits.