Three-Fifths of Burglaries occur Between 6 pm and 6 am.

As it gets darker earlier, burglaries are increasing with one occurring every 40 seconds, with 422,870 burglaries taking place last year. London homes are three times more likely to be burgled, particularly homes built before 2000. Homes from the 1920’s and 30’s, with their Art Deco style and glass panels are categorically burgled most.

In honour of National Home Security Month (NHSM) Beat the Burglar week, Philips Hue created a puzzle to highlight the best ways to keep a home secure as winter sets in.

Andy Baxter, Phillips Hue Product Manager at Signify said:

“A burglar will look at a row of houses in a street and look for the obvious signs that someone is away and it’s easy to get into. People often get complacent when they live on a quiet road with a community feel.”

In support of NHSM, we’ve created our guide to securing homes and beating the burglar.

How to Beat the Burglar

Think like a Thief

Burglars will look at all the homes on the street, to identify the easiest ways of breaking in. You should do the same to your own home, think: if you didn’t have your keys how would you get in?

Get a second opinion, ask your neighbour and friends the same question. It’s a good way to find out what security improvements you need to make.

Good Greenery

The condition of your house and garden can tell burglars a lot, if it looks run-down, they may think it lax security. Keep bushes and hedges cut short, avoid making hiding places for intruders.

Your property should be visible from the road, that way any intruders will be too. Greenery mustn’t obstruct surveillance equipment. Install gravel pathways, that way you can hear anyone approaching your home.

Garden Tools aren’t just for Weeding

All tools should be kept in a shed and securely locked, if left out it is an open invitation to thieves to pry open your windows and doors and take your valuables.

Outside is Not the Place for Keys

Leaving spare keys under a plant pot may seem convenient, if you’re forgetful or have a relative who lets themselves in. But burglars know where to look, leaving spare keys outside is giving them an easy way in akin to setting a password as 1234.

Think about your Rear Gate

Homes with rear access are frequent burglary targets, it’s easy to get in and out before anyone notices. A rear gate should be bolted with solid fixings and a strong padlock, this will draw attention to any intruders trying to get in.

Don’t Forget about your Car

A burglar observing your house will know who drives which car and at what times it is normally on the driveway. If someone hasn’t come home or a car hasn’t been moved for a long time, they’ll know you’re not there.

Make use of your garage if you have one and keep it locked. Otherwise, security bollards are a good visual deterrent as well as, fencing and an automatic gate for complete perimeter security.

Don’t leave your keys or fob in sight of windows or doors. It’s surprisingly easy for a burglar to steal a keyless car.

Be Careful what you Throw Away

Your rubbish can show burglars if there’s anything in your house worth taking, break down any boxes for expensive items and make sure they’re mixed your more mundane recycling.

Front Door Security

External doors should be BSI Kitemarked and have a TS 007 three-star rating five-lever mortice lock or a rim automatic deadlock, protected against snapping, drilling, picking, cutting and forcing.

If you have multiple locks, use them, burglars know it’s difficult to get through, so they won’t waste their time. A peephole and door chain will allow you to protect yourself when strangers knock.

Your Letterbox Can be Used for More than just Delivering Post

Letterboxes are an effective tool for burglars to fish your keys, important documents, bank details and any valuables nearby. Don’t leave your keys on a string inside the letterbox, if it’s easy for you to get them it’s easy for burglars.

Letterboxes should be TS 008 compliant, fit a draft excluder or cage to prevent fishing.

Piled up post signifies an unoccupied property, ask a relative or neighbour to collect it if you’re away. The Royal Mail can also hold your post and deliver it at your request.

Open Windows are Easy Pickings

So, your door is deadlocked and Kitemarked, but what about your windows? If unlocked, no matter how high burglars will find a way in. Keep windows locked and never leave the keys in them.

The first-floor bathroom window is most likely to be open, consider blocking it to prevent burglars from pushing through the frame.

See our NHSM Front Door Security article for more information on windows, doors, letterboxes and standards to be aware of.

Don’t Warn Against what you Don’t Have

Unless visitors should beware of your dog, ‘Beware the Dog’ signs have little effect on criminals. The sign may even encourage them, that with a pet you’re less likely to set an alarm as it would trigger the motion sensors.

Protect your Valuables

Burglars will look through windows or any door glass panels, if you’ve left valuable items in sight your house will viewed as a good target. They know most people keep their treasured possessions in their bedroom. Store them in your attic or loft space instead, they won’t risk getting trapped.

Photograph all valuable items in case they’re stolen, but don’t keep them in your house, it will act as a checklist for burglars.

Invest in a safe or safety deposit box if you want the ultimate confidence in the safety of your belongings.

Security mark your items with your postcode, house number or first three letters of your house name.

Shred all Documents

Sensitive information is a high-value target for burglars, any documents or bank statements they do take can have severe consequences. You should shred documents as soon as you don’t need them anymore. Any documents not shredded should be kept in a safe or an area that is not easily accessible.

Lights on and Curtains Closed at Odd Hours is Obvious

Leaving lights on at strange times, all night or constantly while you’re on holiday, is a clear indication to burglars that no one is home. Curtains closed throughout the day or over a few days has the same effect.

To make it more realistic that the house is occupied, install sensor lights to illuminate any unwanted visitors. Timer plugs on your lights and radio also make it look more genuine and is far more effective for dissuading criminals. Consider blinds instead of curtains, it’s far less noteworthy if they’re closed for long periods of time.

Monitor your Home

Alarm and CCTV systems are arguably the most effective burglary prevention methods, you can be confident in the safety of your home. CCTV should be highly visible around your property.

The alarm box and CCTV should be clean and serviced regularly. If cared for, burglars will think it’s operational. If the alarm malfunctions regularly, neighbours are less likely to pay attention if it goes off.

The alarm keypad should be clean, otherwise it’s easy for burglars to work out your password. Don’t have it in view of a window or door, intruders will be able to see if it’s activated.

Visit APG’s keyholding and alarm response division ARK and CCTV monitoring division VRC to see how we can help.

Be Smart

Burglars want easy targets; smart home security makes it more difficult for them to break in and draws attention to the intruder. Whether a smart doorbell, lock, camera or alarm, 89% of ex-convicts would avoid a smart home.

Get Help from your Neighbours

If you’re on holiday or just work long hours, ask your neighbours to keep an eye on your property and repay them by doing the same. If they have a set of your keys, to collect post or feed your cat, make sure they give them back to you in person.

Join your local Neighbourhood Watch, these areas experience less crime and means you can get to know your neighbours better.

Don’t Advertise your House as Empty

Keep calendars out of sight, it can tell burglars your entire schedule but most importantly, when you’ll be out the house.

Additionally, don’t have name tags on your suitcases, when you do go away, some criminals wait at airports looking for addresses they know will be empty.

Anti-Social Media

Holiday pictures and location ‘check-ins’ on social media shows everyone you’re not at home, with 49% of burglars being known to victims they will and do track social media.

How to make your social media safe from burglars:

  • Set your social media accounts to private so only your family and close friends can see what you’re posting.
  • Wait until you get back before posting any pictures.
  • Don’t tag yourself in locations – disable GPS and geo-tagging in your phone and app settings.
  • Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know and don’t trust.

If you have been burgled and unsure what to do next, you can read our helpful guide on ARK.

Also, see our first article for National Home Security Month to find out more about how APG can help secure your home and ensure the safety of your family.

About APG

The Asset Protection Group comprises a group of Fire & Security companies with shared ownership and one common goal, protecting your most important assets. As a collective group, we look to offer protection to your assets to assist you with your ongoing success within your own business.