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Keep your home safe and secure with our top tips

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Types of burglary

Most burglary is opportunist in its nature. The opportunist burglar will not scout out your house or pre-meditate the crime but will decide to rob you in the moment if it looks worthwhile. Their aim is to make some quick cash so they will likely grab several things of value that sell well on the black market, though not necessarily the most expensive.

An opportunistic burglar does not possess many housebreaking skills, and likes to spend as little time as possible breaking in to a home, so even basic home security measures will likely cause them to give your home a miss.

Most people who call at your home will be genuine but sometimes people turn up unannounced, with the intention of tricking their way into your home. You should always be aware when someone you don't know calls at your door. They can be convincing and often persuasive.

  • Bogus callers may be smartly dressed and claim to be from the council, the police, health organisations, or gas, water or electricity companies.
  • They may be dealers offering to buy your jewellery, antiques or furniture at what seems to be a good price but could actually be a lot less than the item is worth. They may be "workmen" trying to persuade you that you need urgent repairs doing to your home. You also need to be careful of callers offering to make building repairs or to tarmac your drive. Sometimes they can ask for money in advance or even overcharge you.
  • Beware of callers who attempt to distract you by claiming they have seen something untoward in another room or outside, which may encourage you to leave the room.
  • Fitting, and using, a door chain or spy hole to the front door will help you to check who the caller is before opening and if they cannot produce an official identity card then do not let them in. You can even ring the company they say they are from to confirm their identity - however don't use a number that the person gives you, find the official number online.
A genuine caller will not mind you closing the door for two minutes while you check their ID and most will be happy to make an appointment and return at a later date or time.

While most burglaries are opportunistic, some thieves will plan a break in, targeting a property where they know there will be items worth stealing. They may look for people posting about having new and/or expensive items on social media, may peer through your windows or letterboxes, and check for discarded boxes in your bins.

Some of the most common stolen items include cars, laptops, jewellery and cash.

Top tips for keeping your home safe and secure

Homes with no security measures in place are five times more likely to be burgled than those with simple security measures.

Taking just a few steps can make a big difference in keeping your home safe from burglary. Here are a few tips:

  • Lock your doors and windows every time you leave the house, even when you're just out in the garden, remembering to double-lock UPVC doors (lift handle and turn key)
  • Hide all keys, including car keys, out of sight and away from the letterbox (remember a device could be used to hook and remove keys through the letterbox)
  • Install an intruder alarm - If it is to be monitored, ensure it is┬áNSI or SIA regsitered (see 'Useful links' for directories)
  • Install dusk to dawn outside lighting
  • Get a trusted neighbour to keep an eye on your property
  • Leave lights on in your house or on a timer to make the property appear occupied
  • Make sure the fences around your garden are in good condition
  • Secure bikes at home by locking them to an immoveable object inside a locked shed or garage
  • Keep ladders and tools stored away; don't leave them outside where they could be used to break into your home
  • Ensure side gates are locked to prevent access to the rear of the property
  • Improve natural surveillance at the front of your property i.e. trim high hedges
  • Mark your property with a forensic marking product and register your property with Immobilise
  • Consider joining or forming a Neighbourhood Watch scheme
  • Remove valuables from view of ground floor windows
  • Store any high value items (i.e. jewellery, passports) in a correctly installed safe

Doors and windows

In many burglaries, criminals break into a house or flat through a door, either by forcing the lock or breaking it in. So make sure your doors are strong and secure. Consider fitting a bar which is available for both lock and hinge side for extra strength; a locksmith can advise you on how best to do this. Glass panels on doors are particularly vulnerable. If you have one on your door you could replace it with laminated glass, which is stronger. You can also buy a film that you can stick over the glass to make it harder to break.

Home security and DIY shops sell inexpensive, key-operated locks to fit most kinds of windows. Fit window locks with keys to all downstairs windows and those upstairs that are easy to reach from outside.

Reducing garage, shed and garden crime

  • Use good quality fixings and a padlock to secure doors
  • Use anti-tamper screws in door hinges
    If possible, lock any windows
  • Fit a mains or battery powered alarm
    Use a forensic coding product to 'property mark' all valuable tools and equipment with your postcode/house number
  • If possible, secure lawnmowers and other valuable equipment to a shed or garage wall
  • Lock tools away when you aren't using them.

Going away?

Make your home looks like it is occupied:

  • Use automatic timer-switches to turn your lights and radios on when it goes dark
  • Cancel any newspaper or milk deliveries
  • Trusted neighbours may be able to help you by collecting your post, opening and closing curtains and they could park their car on your driveway
  • Avoid discussing holiday plans on public social networking sites - burglars can use any information you post to their advantage


If you are thinking about installing CCTV to look after your property, there are some things to consider. The Information Commissioner's Office website offers some useful information on the use of CCTV by the public.

Need further security advice?

Contact Surrey Police on 101 and ask for the Crime Reduction Advisor for your area.

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