Protecting your home and valuables
If you are the victim of a crime, such as a homophobic, racist or general crime, you should tell the police and the council.
If a crime is perpetrated against a tenant in, or close to, their home, by another tenant that person may be in breach of their tenancy conditions. If a court finds them guilty, they can be evicted.
Burglary is a major crime. Many burglaries are committed at random. A burglar sees a chance to get into your home without being seen and takes it. There are a number of steps you can take to protect your home. Don't rely on one or two precautions. Here is a list of things that will help you beat the burglar!
- Walls and Fences
High fences are hard to climb, but they give a burglar cover once he's over. Keep them low, if you can. The best fences have a trellis on top – it makes them harder to climb.
Get an outdoor light with a sensor that comes on when someone's around.
You can get timers for your lamps and ceiling lights. Don't just light up the hall. You can light up the landing, bathroom, bedroom and living room too. If you vary the times each light comes on, you give the impression that you’re in.
You can use a timer for a radio. Tuning to a talk station is a good idea.
Get a trusted neighbour to open and close your curtains if you're away.
- Mortice Locks
Your front and back doors should be thick enough for a five-lever mortice-lock. It should have British Safety Standard BS3621.
- Window Locks
The best type for a wooden frame pulls the window onto the frame with a key. You may need to fit two locks on a big window.
- Double Glazing
The safest double glazing has bolts that fit into the frame for extra security. Laminated glass is better than toughened because it stays in place when it's smashed and slows a burglar down. It's also safer for children.
- Patio Doors
You can make these safer with a purpose-made lock or a security bar.
- French Windows
If both parts of your French windows open, and you only fit a lock to one. The other door is the weak point. Consider fitting mortice bolts into the frame at the top and bottom of each door.
Keep spares with a neighbour, friend or relative, not in the house. Never leave keys in the door!
Don't rely just on your dog to protect your home. You can’t have a dog in every type of property.
- House Alarms
When alarms sound, most burglars grab what they can and run for it. Whichever type of alarm you choose, get a professional to fit it.
Some criminals won't go to the trouble of breaking into your home if they can just knock and be invited in. You've probably had many genuine callers at your front door and not one trickster – but be careful. Bogus callers come in all shapes and sizes.
- Bogus officials
Water board officials never need to come into your home to test water pressure or repair leaks - even in emergencies. If they do need to get in they send you a letter first. Gas and electricity meter readers want you to check their identity before you let them in. If in doubt, ring up and check. Genuine callers don't mind this in the least. Keep the phone numbers handy. Shut the door while you're checking - genuine callers don't mind! You could always join the password scheme so the meter reader gives you an arranged password when they call.
- Look before you open the door
Always look to see who's at the door and ask for identification before you open.
- Door Viewer
If your front door doesn't have glass, you can fit a spy-hole. Or get into the habit of looking through a window near the door to see who is calling.
- Door Light
An outside light over the door will help you see a caller in the dark.
- Door Chain
If you need to open the door to make further checks, use a door chain or similar device.
- don't let people in until you know who they are
- keep the door locked while you check their story
- if you let someone in, stay with them at all times
- never part with money or other things, whatever they say
- If suspicious - ring the Police
- get more than one estimate for work
- official organisations usually write first
- check identity cards thoroughly
- don't let callers put pressure on you to let them in; and
- If in doubt - Keep Them Out!
- Ultra-violet Marking
UV marker pens cost about £1 from stationers and security shops. Put your postcode and house number in invisible ink on the bottom of your valuables. If your things are found, the police can read your details under UV light and get things back to you. You’ll need to do this every year, as the writing fades.
For small items like jewellery, photograph them against a ruler.
- Shed Security
Remember to postcode anything of value in your shed. Your lawn mower will be harder for the burglar to sell on with your house number and postcode painted across it.
A good quality padlock - and the hasp and staple that go with it - is important on all sheds and garage doors. It's best to bolt the hasp and staple to the door and frame for extra strength.
- Screw Heads
Smear glue over the heads of screws or use anti-tamper screws to stop them being opened.
Lock bikes to something fixed or bulky like a ladder or workbench.
- Garden Tools
Don't leave them lying around the garden, a burglar could use them to break in.
Most accidents are preventable, for detailed advice please visit the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents website (see external links section below).
Protecting your home is fine, but you will enjoy greater security and peace of mind if everyone around is working with you. An enthusiastic home watch scheme will deter burglars. Contact your local police station for help setting one up.
Prevention is better than cure.
- For more information and advice, including the Immobilise Property Register, see the practical advice section of the Property Crime page.