Usually you would expect an article on home invasions and home security to start with some frightening statistics peppered with a sprinkling of fear mongering. And while the issue of home invasion (also referred to as aggravated burglary) is never a pleasant subject but is still something that should always be considered when looking at your home security.
A home invasion occurs when a burglar enters a home and “at the time has with him a firearm, imitation firearm, weapon of offence, or any explosive”. Thankfully, these are a rare occurrence in the UK when compared to other countries such as the USA. The reasons why home invasions are exceptional (despite a general increase in regular burglaries of up to 6% in the three years leading up to 2018) is because of harsh punishments (conviction can carry a life sentence), the prevalence of CCTV in urban areas and general improvements to home security. It is this last point that we would like to focus on in this article, looking at ways you can keep your home safe from burglaries and home invasions.
Lock windows & doors
It sounds obvious but take care to lock your doors and windows every time you leave the house and this applies even if you are just popping out to the shops. Most burglars are looking for easy targets and something as simple as a locked door or window can be enough of a deterrent to keep them out. If you still want ventilation or need to leave a door or window ajar for your pet, a lockable latch such as LockLatch lets you keep your doors or windows open but locked.
Hide your keys & valuables
When locking up you should make a conscious effort to keep your keys (including your car keys) out of sight and, more importantly, out of reach. Crafty burglars will sometimes fashion a device to hook keys through an open window or even a letterbox! To avoid these situations ensure that your keys are stowed away. This is also true of other valuables, we aren’t saying you need to lock away your antiques, but generally valuable items should not be kept in sight of ground floor windows.
Install visible security
Unfortunately a burglar alarm on its own is not a deterrent. While it forms an important part of the full suite of prevention methods, it is important to show potential criminals that your home is well protected. Visible cameras and security beams on the exterior of your house are good solutions, as well as signs outside your house indicating which security company you are with.
Get to know your neighbours
You won’t always be at home, and that’s why it’s important to get to know your neighbours. A good neighbour can keep an eye on your property and notify you or the police service if there is any suspicious behaviour. Another good idea is to join a neighbourhood watch programme. You can find out more about these and join one in your area here.
Maintain your property
A burglar will have more time to get into your home if they can access your garden easily without being seen. Anything taller than 1 meter creates a hiding place for a potential burglar. So small maintenance tasks such as trimming hedges, maintaining gates and fences, and general gardening, will provide natural surveillance, prevent unwanted entry and remove potential hiding places.
Good fences make safe homes
Never neglect your perimeter fencing. If a potential burglar has trouble accessing your property they are far less likely to gain access to your home. Do regular perimeter checks to look for opportunities to gain access to your property and don’t neglect side gates and rear fencing.
Don’t leave things lying around
This tip is twofold. Firstly, don’t leave valuable things loose in your garden. Items such as bicycles should be locked away or secured to a solid item to reduce the temptation for a potential burglar to enter your property. Secondly, don’t leave anything lying around that can help gain access to your property. Tools such as hammers and hatchets should be locked away as these can be used to break in. The same goes for ladders, which can give access to balconies or second storey windows.
They don’t call it a safe for nothing
Speaking of valuables. High value items such as passports or jewellery should be locked away in a safe or, even better, kept off site in a bank vault or safety deposit box. If you are unlucky enough to be caught up in a home invasion having these items locked away can be a godsend. However, if a criminal discovers the safe, it is always better to provide them with access rather than risk harm to you or your loved ones.
We hope these tips on avoiding home invasions and burglaries have been helpful. We have tried to focus on preventative strategies rather than what to do in an aggravated burglary situation. As they say prevention is better than cure and when you and your family’s safety are concerned you can never be too careful.
If you have any home safety tips you would like to share please email us and we can feature them in a future article.