Many of us worry about becoming the victim of a crime or scam while we’re at home. But by taking a few simple, and often inexpensive, precautions, you can minimise your risk of being targeted by burglars or scammers.
- How can I make my doors and windows more secure?
- Should I install a home security device?
- How can I boost security around my home?
- How can I protect my valuables?
- What should I do if I go on holidays?
- What should I do if I get an unexpected doorstep caller?
- What should I do if I’ve been burgled?
- What should I do next?
How can I make my doors and windows more secure?
To prevent burglars from entering your home, fit your front door with the following:
- An automatic rim latch lock (also called a nightlatch).
- A five-lever mortice deadlock with Kitemark BS 3621.
- A letter box cage to prevent thieves tampering with locks through the letter box.
- A door peep-hole to check who is outside before deciding whether to open the door to them.
A door chain can help you screen doorstep callers, but avoid leaving it on all day because this can stop family, carers or emergency services getting into your home if they need to.
You could also fit your back door with the following:
- A five-lever mortice deadlock.
- A security mortice lock and mortice bolt, if you have French doors.
- Locks to patio doors.
Fit window locks with keys to all downstairs windows and any others that are easy to reach, such as those above a flat roof or near a drain pipe.
Get doors and bolts fitted by a qualified locksmith and consider contacting your local Age UK to see if they have a handyperson scheme.
Should I install a home security device?
There are security devices available that can provide additional home security.
- Outdoor lighting acts as a deterrent and makes it easier to find your way if you're coming or going after dark. You can install a low-level light that automatically switches on from dusk until dawn, or you can get a light that switches on when it senses movement outside your home.
- Visible burglar alarms will deter burglars and warn you of an intruder.
If you're considering installing a burglar alarm:
- ask the Safer Neighbourhood team at your nearest police station for advice
- get at least three quotes and specialist advice from alarm companies
- ask your insurance company which alarm companies it recommends
- get professional help to install the alarm. There are schemes all over the UK offering home security services.
Some home insurance companies will lower your premium if you have additional security devices installed.
How can I boost security around my home?
It’s important to secure any garages, sheds and passageways outside your home.
- Garages and sheds are often full of expensive tools, some of which a burglar could use to break into your home. Make sure that garage doors are solid and fitted with good locks. Always keep garage windows and doors locked, particularly if your garage is attached to your house with a door leading inside.
- Deter thieves from getting into your garden by putting up a strong fence or planting a prickly hedge.
- Padlock the side gate, which should be strong enough to withstand a strong kick.
- Consider gravel driveways and paths, which can make it harder for burglars to approach silently.
How can I protect my valuables?
Think about marking your possessions with your postcode and the number of your house or flat. This deters burglars because it makes stolen property harder to sell. If your valuables are stolen, the police are more likely to find them if they are marked.
You can register your valuable possessions online for free on the Immobilise Property Register. This website helps police identify owners of lost or stolen property.
Ask your local Neighbourhood Watch or the Safer Neighbourhood team at your local police station for help with marking possessions.
What should I do if I go on holidays?
Some simple precautions can keep your home safe and give you peace of mind while you’re away.
- Ask a trusted friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your home for you.
- Avoid discussing your holiday plans on social networking websites or other public places.
- Cancel your regular deliveries, such as milk bottles or newspaper (if a burglar sees parcels or newspapers on your doorstep, it's easier to tell that you're away).
- Register with the Royal Mail Keepsafe service (there is a charge) so that your post is stored at your local delivery office while you’re away and will be delivered to you after you return home.
- Plug a lamp into a time switch that will automatically turn on in the evenings, but don't leave it in a room that passers-by can see into when the light is on.
Check your building and contents insurance is up to date.
What should I do if I get an unexpected doorstep caller?
You should only let someone in to your home if you’re absolutely sure that they’re genuine and you want them in your home. You don’t need to open the door for them and don’t feel embarrassed about turning them away.
Be wary of bogus callers who try and trick their way in to your home by pretending to be a meter reader, police officer, council official, or an ordinary person needing help. You can ask the person to come back another time when someone you trust will be with you.
If you’re worried about a doorstep caller, dial 999 and ask for the police.
What should I do if I’ve been burgled?
- If you think you’ve been burgled when you arrive home, don’t go inside unless you’re sure the intruder has gone. Dial 999 and ask for the police straight away. If you feel safe and don’t need an emergency response, call 101 to report the burglary.
- Make a list of any missing items.
- Inform your home insurance company and consider making a claim. They may ask for a crime reference number which you can get from the police.
- Change your locks if any keys have been taken.
- Cancel any stolen bank cards.
Victim Support gives free practical and emotional support to people who have experienced crime, whether or not you report it to the police.
If you’ve been burgled, call the Victim Support Supportline on 0808 168 9111, or visit their website.
What should I do next?
For more information call Age UK on 0800 055 6112