Secure your residence
Most burglaries can be prevented. Many are committed by opportunist thieves, and in one burglary out of five the thief does not have to even force his way in because a door or window has been left open. Burglars like easy opportunities. They don’t like locked windows because breaking glass attracts attention. They don’t like security deadlocks on doors because they can’t be opened from the inside, so they have to leave through a window. Simple precautions like these do work. Do check the security of your residence against the advice on these pages, and strengthen the weak spots as soon as possible. A small outlay will, in many cases, make your residence much more secure and buy peace of mind into the bargain.
Be alert to people loitering in residential streets, if it is no one you recognise, and they are acting suspiciously, inform the police.
- Burglar Alarms:
Visible burglar alarms make burglars think twice.
- Gates and Fences:
A high wall or fence at the back of a house can put off a burglar. Check for weak spots where a thief could get in. A thorny hedge along a boundary can also be a useful deterrent. Make sure the front of the house is still visible to passers by, so that a burglar can’t work unseen.
- Small Windows:
Even small windows like casement windows, skylights, or bathroom fanlights need locks. A thief can get in through any gap larger than a human head and some are known to bring young children with them to gain entry through the smallest gap.
- Spare Keys:
Never leave a spare key in a hiding place like under a doormat, in a flowerpot or inside the letterbox - a thief will look there first. Do not display or label keys inside the house and keep them away from letter boxes or windows where they might be hooked up. Thieves can be ingenious too.
- Front Door Roof:
A thief could reach first floor windows from this roof - so fit window locks.
- Garages and Sheds:
Never leave a garage or garden shed unlocked, especially if it has a connecting door to the house. Lock tools and ladders away so that a thief cannot use them to break in.
If your front and back doors are not strong and safe, neither is your home. First of all, make sure the doors themselves are of strong, solid core construction, 44 mm thick. Glass panels are especially vulnerable. If any of your doors seem flimsy, replace them with solid core as above. If you are a council tenant, call the housing department about it. Fit back and front doors with a five-lever mortice deadlock, to BS3621 or equivalent (seek advice from your local master locksmith).
- Door Viewers:
They mean you can see who callers are before opening the door.
- Door Chains:
Essential in allowing you to open a door safely to check identity cards etc before allowing access. Chain equipment must be fitted securely to doors and frames to withstand attack from the outside.
- Front and back doors:
Fit a five-lever mortice deadlock - to BS3621 - and use it.
A deadlock can only be opened with a key, so a thief cannot smash a nearby glass panel to open the door from the inside. If the thief enters the property through a window they can’t carry your belongings out through the door.
If you are intending to install a PVC door, before you buy it, check with the manufacturer that a door chain will be fitted. It can be very difficult and expensive to have a chain fitted to an existing PVC door.
- DIY shops sell inexpensive key-operated locks to fit all kinds of window. If you are a tenant you may be able to get the council or landlord to pay to have them fitted for you. A lock forces the thief to break the glass, and risk attracting attention. Secure the most vulnerable windows first: ground floor windows, windows that can’t be seen from the street and windows which can be reached from a drainpipe or flat roof. If you are getting new glass for your windows, consider laminated glass - a thief will find it hard to break. As a last resort, think about security grilles for your windows.
- Louvre windows are especially vulnerable because the slats can easily be removed from the frame. Glue the slats in place with an epoxy resin, and fit a special louvre lock. Better still, replace them with fixed glass.
- You should get specialist advice on fitting locks to patio doors. They should have special locks fitted top and bottom unless fitted with a multi-locking system. Also install an anti-lift device to stop a thief simply lifting the door off its rail. Fit security mortice locks to french doors, and mortice bolts to the top and bottom of both doors.
- With all security, consideration must be given to the risk of fire, and means of escape. Fit a smoke detector, conforming to BS5446.
Fan light locks have a metal bolt to secure the metal arm used to open and close the window.
Casement locks make it impossible to open windows without the correct key.
The lock shown here locks the two windows together. A more discreet version is embedded into the wooden frame. Or there are devices to stop the window opening beyond a certain limit.
Patio door locks need to be fitted top and bottom.
Secured by Design (SbD)
SbD is an Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) security initiative. Its aim is to engage with the building industry to ensure Crime Prevention is taken into consideration during all stages of the planning process. As well as advice on the design and layout of a development it also details minimum physical security standards for housing, commercial, hospital and educational establishments, to reduce opportunity for crime to happen.
Look for the SbD Logo on security products.