Top 10 tips to improve your home security

The good news is that there are plenty of simple, low-cost steps you can take to greatly reduce your chance of getting burgled. Remember, it’s all about making your home a harder target to break into than other people’s. Most burglars enter via a garage door, back door, kitchen or bedroom window. Burglar-proof these and you’ll significantly improve your chances of never suffering from a break-in.

1. Door locks
Have key-operated two-cylinder deadlocks fitted to all external hinged doors. A quality knob-inlock set will have a ‘dead latch’ mechanism to stop burglars using a credit card to open it.

While looking at external doors, you may also want to check that they are solid and robust. If not, perhaps you should replace them, or add a security screen. You may also want to consider fitting a wide angle peephole on your front door.

2. Sliding doors
A favourite point of entry for burglars! Fit key-operated locks or patio bolts to all external sliding doors, such as patio/veranda doors.

Sliding doors can also be made more secure by inserting a wood or metal dowel into the track to limit movement.

3. Windows
An open window, visible from the street, may be the only reason that your home is chosen by a burglar. Ground floor windows are more susceptible for obvious reasons.

Make sure you have a security grill, security screen or burglar bars applied to all accessible windows, or alternatively have key-operated single cylinder window locks fitted.

4. Warning stickers
Place highly visible stickers on or near front doors and windows, which indicate an alarm system, dog or membership of neighbourhood watch. Your local police station should have an anti-crime adviser who can help provide these.

5. Light timers
Install light timers to switch on automatically if you aren’t home when it gets dark, or have gone away for a few days. The timers should mimic when you would usually switch lights on or off. They are not expensive and are available at most hardware stores.

6. Exterior lighting
Exterior lighting is also a good deterrent, provided it is switched on and off as though someone is at home. Make sure the approach to your house, especially any entryway, is brightly lit, controlled by a light timer if necessary – this also makes it safer and more comfortable if you come home after dark.

7. Motion sensor lights
These are useful to install, especially at the back of a house or apartment. Infra-red motion sensor lights are also easily available and not very expensive. An unexpected light going on is a definite deterrent to a burglar who will wonder what other security devices you have in place.

8. Alarm systems
Burglar alarms definitely increase the potential and fear of being caught by the police.

There are a wide variety of alarms available – you need to make sure that the one you choose has visible signage and is properly programmed, installed and maintained.

Some alarms are routed to a police station or alarm control centre. If yours relies on neighbourhood response, make sure your neighbours are able and willing to respond.

9. Home safes
Burglars know all the hidden spots to look for keys, valuables and important documents. The price of a good home safe is falling, so setting one up could be a good investment. Home safes need to be anchored into the floor or permanent shelving, and should not be kept in the master bedroom or cupboard. Use a safe regularly, so it becomes routine and always keep the code secret.

10. Protect your ID
It’s a good idea to take photographs around your house of all your valuables – important proof for an insurance claim if you ever need to make one. This can be kept in a safety deposit box, safe, or with a relative. Receipts for bigger ticket items are also useful to keep for the same reason.

Consider taking photocopies of your passport, driver’s license and all the cards in your wallet and store these in a safe place.

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