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Home security and crime prevention

Many of us feel more vulnerable as we get older – even in our own homes where we should feel safest. But there are plenty of things you can do at home to feel safer and put your mind at ease.

How can I improve my home security?

Securing doors and windows

Improving the security of your doors and windows can reduce the risk of your home being burgled – and help you feel safer. It's not necessarily hugely expensive, either.

You can fit your front door with: 

  • a five-lever mortice deadlock with Kitemark BS 3621 (you should get one of these on a any back doors too)
  • an automatic rim latch lock (also called a 'night latch')
  • a peephole to check who's there before opening the door
  • a door chain to speak to whoever's there without having to open the door fully
  • locks such as hinge bolts for additional security.

A door chain can be helpful – but avoid leaving it on all the time if there's a chance family, carers or emergency services might need to get in.

You can take these precautions to secure your windows too:

  • Fit locks with keys to all downstairs windows and windows that might be easier for burglars to reach – such as those above a flat roof.
  • Keep window keys out of sight to anyone peering in, but somewhere easy to reach in case of an emergency.
  • If you're having new windows fitted, ensure they come with good locks as it can be tricky to add better ones later.

When getting your doors and windows fitted with locks, it's a good idea to check your locksmith is an approved member of the Master Locksmith Association (MLA).

Search the Master Locksmith Association directory

Home security devices

Home security devices can help prevent crime and help you feel safer.

  • Outdoor lights can deter burglars and make it easier for you to get to your front door and find your keys in the dark.
  • Burglar alarms can warn you and/or the police of intruders. Ask the Safer Neighbourhood Team or the Crime Prevention Officer at your local police station for advice before you buy an alarm.

Some home insurance companies offer discounts on home contents insurance if you have an approved alarm installed – so it can be worth checking with them.

If you're considering installing a burglar alarm

It's a good idea to:

  • ask the Safer Neighbourhood team at your local police station for advice
  • ask your home insurance company if it recommends an alarm company
  • get at least 3 quotes and specialist advice from alarm companies
  • get professional help to install the alarm.

Securing garages, sheds and passageways

When you're thinking about home security, it's important to remember garages, sheds and passageways too. Here are some security measures you could take:

  • Garages and sheds often contain expensive tools – some of which a burglar could use to break into your home. Make sure that any doors are solid and fitted with good locks.
  • Keep garage windows and doors locked – particularly if your garage is attached to your house.
  • Padlock any side gates. You could consider installing metal bar gates that allow someone approaching to be seen.
  • Strong fences and prickly hedges can deter thieves from your garden. Trellis or anti-climb tops to fences and walls can help too.
  • Gravel driveways and paths can make it harder for intruders to approach quietly.

Protecting valuables

Think about marking valuable possessions with your postcode and the number of your house or flat. Marked property is harder for thieves to sell on, so it can put them off. Also, if something valuable of yours does get stolen, the police are more likely to identify and return it to you.

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 holiday?

Taking some simple precautions before going on holiday can help keep your home safe and give you peace of mind while you’re away.

You could:

  • ask a trusted friend or neighbour to keep an eye on things for you
  • pause your regular deliveries – milk bottles or newspapers on the doorstep can be a giveaway that your home is empty
  • register with the Royal Mail Keepsafe service which holds onto your post and delivers it once you're back
  • leave curtains and blinds at least partially open – closed curtains and blinds can be a giveaway during the day
  • plug a lamp into a timed switch to come on in the evenings – but it's best not to leave it in a room that passers-by can see into)
  • mow the lawn if you'll be away for a while
  • check your building and contents insurance is up to date.

Lots of us like to post holiday updates on social media, but it can be best not to mention the specifics – you don't want everyone knowing when your home will be empty.

What should I do if I get an unexpected doorstep caller?

You should only let someone into your home if you’re absolutely sure that they’re genuine. Any genuine person will have ID that they won't mind showing you. You don’t need to open the door for them and if you feel uneasy, you can always ask someone to come back another time.

Be wary of bogus callers who try and trick their way into your home by pretending to be someone they aren't – whether that's a meter reader, police officer, council official, or just someone who needs help. You can ask the person to come back another time when someone you trust will be with you.

Similarly, doorstep traders aren't always honest. They can try to trick or push you into buying goods or services at high prices. Don't agree to anything, sign a contract or pay for anything until you've talked to someone you trust – and don't be afraid to tell them to leave.

Not sure? Don't open the door.

And if you feel threatened – by a doorstep caller or by anyone else – 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 don't need an emergency response, call 101 to report the burglary.

If you've been burgled, it's important to do the following: 

  • 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 offers free practical and emotional support to people who have experienced crime, whether or not you report it to the police.

Phone icon We're here to help

We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 120 local Age UKs.

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Last updated: Apr 08 2024

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