The clocks have gone back and it’s now noticeably darker in the evenings. With the nights drawing in and the UK moving into proper winter, now is the ideal time to give your home a once over and check how secure it is.
You might think that your property is pretty burglar proof, but it never hurts to double check. In fact, Lisa Winward, chief constable of North Yorkshire Police, recently said that people may be “surprised at how easy it would be” to break into their properties.
Her police force is running an awareness campaign to get homeowners to take a closer look at their home security.
“It can take just a few seconds for a burglar to break into your home but you can reduce the risk of becoming a victim by looking at your home security through the eyes of a burglar,” Ms Winward stated.
North Yorkshire Police recommends that you look at your home and ask how you’d get in if you didn’t have your key. Try to think about what a burglar might see when they look at your home too. This could be in terms of ways they could break in, but also valuable items that would make it attractive for them to try.
“Homes with no security measures in place are much more likely to be burgled than those with simple security measures. Good window locks, strong deadlocks and making your property look like someone is home can make a big difference,” North Yorkshire Police burglary investigator Dave Pegg stated.
If you have a period property with beautiful sash windows, make sure you take a close look at them to ensure they’re still in top condition. If the windows don’t lock properly or there is any sign of damage to the wood on the frames, now is definitely a good time to fit new sash windows in Middlesex, or wherever you live.
This Is Money also recently offered some top tips to homeowners about how to keep their properties secure at this time of the year. The news provider shared research from Co-Op Insurance, which revealed that theft insurance claims increase by 34 per cent during the winter months.
It also cited research conducted as part of National Home Security Month, which runs during October. This found that over one quarter of Brits have little to no security precautions in their homes, concerning given that five per cent of all UK burglaries take place because a door was left unlocked.
There are a lot of areas to consider depending on the kind of property you live in. Start by looking at the exterior of your property. If there are external gates make sure that they’re fitted with strong, weatherproof locks.
Sensor lights around the outside of your home are also a good idea and something recommended by the news provider. If you also have an external camera at your property, the lights will mean that it can pick up the action of any criminals even on the darkest of winter nights.
Replacing door locks is another thing to consider, depending on how sturdy yours are. There are a range of new smart locks available that require a passcode rather than a key to enter, which can be a good option if you have a big family – and mean that noone has to worry about losing their keys.
Alarms are also worth installing in your property, and are one of the most popular options when it comes to home security.
As with the door locks, there are a growing number of affordable and sophisticated options on the market, so it’s worth shopping around to see what’s out there within your budget. Many have wireless functionality, which means you’ll get an alert on your smartphone if anyone tries to gain access to your property.
The Express also recently shared advice on home security from experts at Aviva Insurance. The firm recently released research indicating that fire and theft insurance claims rocketed by 115 per cent on Bonfire Night last year.
There was also an increase in insurance claims around Halloween, with calls spiking by 45 per cent around 31 October.
According to the research, the main reason why these dates in particular are hotspots for burglaries and thefts is that many people leave their homes to attend events. Burglars know that many homes will therefore be unoccupied at this time of the year.
Aviva’s experts stressed that most burglars are opportunists and therefore look for homes that will be easy to break into without anyone noticing.
This makes it particularly important to ensure that all your doors and windows are locked when you leave your home. Also checking that all your locks are still fit for purpose is another essential.
As we’ve already said, it doesn’t hurt to check the condition of your windows and their frames. Replacing them could not only make your home more secure, but also improve your energy efficiency as we move into winter and experience colder weather.
Remember that thieves can still strike even when you’re home. One of the top tips from the Aviva experts is to make sure that nothing valuable is ever left within reach of a window, door or letterbox.
“Thieves can use coat hangers and fishing rods to hook them,” the insurance firm explained, adding, “Don’t label your house keys either.”
Similarly, you should keep your valuables out of sight. Consoles, games and even DVDs can be high on the list of things thieves look for, so make sure that all of these are stored out of sight. Cameras, jewellery, mobile phones and computers are other items often sought after by burglars.
When it comes to things like jewellery, Aviva also advises thinking about where you keep them. Burglars would expect to find these items in the bedroom, so by keeping some of your jewellery in other rooms in your home you could make it more difficult for thieves to find all of your precious possessions.
If you’re thinking of replacing your doors, avoid ones with large glass panels. “Glass panels on doors can be a real weak spot. If you think glass could be a problem in your home, think about replacing it with laminated glass or using a film that sticks over the glass to make it harder to break,” the insurer advised.
This might also be worth considering if you have large windows at ground level – especially if they’re older and not double glazed.
As well as taking a range of preventative measures, it’s also advisable to think about how you might be able to recover your property if it is stolen. Doing things like security marking valuable items is a good way to help police return them if they’re found.
Putting password protection on your electronic devices is also advised. This is more to protect your data than anything else. You need to think about your cyber security as well as your physical security in this day and age. This is particularly important if you have online banking apps on your phone, so make it as hard as possible for anyone to access your device.
Top tips include backing important things up on the cloud so that they can be easily recovered, and making sure you don’t write your passwords down anywhere they could be easily found. It’s especially important that you don’t store passwords in notes on your phone.
Even though this advice is issued at this time every year, it certainly doesn’t hurt to consider the security of your property and other personal belongings regularly. As technology changes, it’s good to make sure you have the most up to date and effective options available.