Four essential elements for home security this winter

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The clocks have gone back, marking the beginning of a period each year when many of us leave for work and come home in darkness. thief

For around a quarter of the year people are more inclined to keep the curtains closed and entertain themselves indoors, paying less attention to what’s going on in their neighbourhoods and neighbour’s houses.

A tempting time for burglars

This makes it a tempting time for burglars to scope out properties than at other times of the year as they think they’ll have less chance of getting caught.

The statistics show that winter is by far the most favoured season for thieves, with burglaries increasing by up to 20%.

If you are unfortunate enough to be burgled, figures show the average cost of replacing stolen items to be £1,746. And when Christmas comes round, an extra £822 worth of presents will be in the average UK home this year, making breaking and entering one even more tempting; gifts are also often much easier to smash and grab than other, more day to day, household items.

Here are our four main areas the advice focussed on and the tips given for what you can do to beat the burglars:

External home security

Improving the security of your home’s external areas can not only protect valuable items in sheds and garages, it can put off burglars from even trying to enter the main home as they assume that it will be well-protected too.

Secure those outbuildings – It’s easy not to bother with locks and weatherproof padlocks for outbuildings such as garages, garden offices and sheds, but they’re a major deterrent for spur-of-the-moment thieves who are looking for easy robbery targets.
Use additional anchor locks and cables for the more valuable individual items you might keep outside, such as lawn mowers, expensive garden furniture and bicycles. In fact, if you don’t, your insurer might not pay out for any claims if they’re taken.

Caravans and motorhomes – Often mothballed for winter, caravans and motorhomes can be attractive targets for burglars. Stand-alone alarms are useful, and cheap, and can alert you to a break in, and scare off thieves when activated. Place a sticker on the outside to show they’re alarmed too; it’s a simple but often effective deterrent.

Protecting your valuables

Thieves often case out a property, carefully watching for signs of valuables inside by seeing past someone as they come and go through a front door, or peering through windows.

To protect your home you should:

• Fit alarms – According to National Security Month statistics, 60% of burglaries that are attempted on homes with alarms fitted are unsuccessful; a great statistic to back up why you should have an alarm fitted if you don’t already.

You can buy a cheaper variety and fit them yourselves, but it’s a good idea to pay more and get it professionally done. Not only are they more likely to work, and alert neighbours and friends, or monitoring services if you’ve paid for one, but your insurer might insist on it. Don’t forget, if you tell your insurer you have an alarm, they may also require a certain standard of product and for it to be turned on whenever you go out.

• Watch out for fraud – Fraud, especially of the online variety is growing, and with the social activities and gift-buying associated with Christmas it’s harder to keep up with your financial in-goings and out-goings. Check your bank account regularly, as well as credit card payments, and keep receipts.

• Get a safe and mark valuables – It’s a really good idea to lock your most valuable, easy-to-steal items away in a safe, such as jewellery, as well as important and valuable documents such as passports and driving licences. You could even mark items with indelible ink or ultra-violet security marker, as well as noting serial numbers, as it can help police identify your items among recovered stolen goods, and is useful for insurance claims.

Doors and windows

How secure your doors and windows are is just about the most important part of home security.

• Door locks – External timber doors should have locks which meet British Standard BS3621, and uPVC or composite doors should have multipoint locks with British Standard Kitemark TS007. Older doors might need the locks upgrading.
As with alarms, your insurer might insist on such locks as a minimum security standard, or claims might be rejected.

• Window locks – All windows, even tiny ones in attics, should have at least one lock on them. Unlike with door locks, it’s not as vital that window locks adhere to the British Standard quality, but the more secure the better. Additionally, your insurer still might insist on a certain level of lock-security for your windows, so check with them.

• Check who’s there – Ideally you should have a spy hole and door chain fitted, and get into the habit of using one or both before opening the door, even if you’re expecting someone.

Hi-tech home security

There are an increasing number of highly useful and sophisticated gadgets and hi-tech systems to help you improve your home’s security.

• CCTV cameras – CCTV cameras are now small and easy to fit, so you can see what’s going on in and around your home from one viewing station, either in your home or remotely using a smartphone or tablet.

• Digital door viewers – These allow you to see who’s at your front or rear doors without needing to approach a door, possibly alerting anyone to your presence in the home, or even be there at all. It can give a much better picture as to what’s going on outside your front door than merely looking through spy hole.

• Digital door locks – Digital door locks do away with the need for keys (but you can still have both if you want!). Burglars that get hold of household keys won’t be able to use them, and can find it more difficult to force or pick a digital lock. You won’t have to use a key cutter to get more keys for friends and family, and can change the code whenever you like.

• Crime watch app – Burglaries often happen in sprees, before burglary teams move on from an area to somewhere else. Crime watcher apps will keep you updated on the number of burglaries happening within a certain radius of where you live, so you can be extra-careful if there’s a spike in activity.

Crime and your home insurance

Fortunately, if you make an effort to improve the security of your home, such as putting in place some or all of the measures above, your home insurance could come down significantly.

Insurance companies often reward those whose homes are more difficult to burgle by reducing your premiums. So don’t forget to tell your insurer if you do do anything to boost security, it might help you save on premiums.

Policy Expert

As an online insurance broker, Policy Expert help our customers to compare insurance products and find a policy that’s right for them. Customer care is at the heart of everything we do and we have a dedicated customer service team on hand by phone, email, twitter and instant chat. For more information on Home Insurance from Policy Expert, speak to one of our experts on 0330 0600 600 or email ask@policyexpert.co.uk

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Policy Expert.