Nothing ruins a holiday like coming home to find your house has been broken into while you were away. You work hard to acquire and maintain your home, so anything you can do to minimise the risks is a good idea. Step one is to have adequate insurance in place to cover your home and valuables, but here are a few handy reminders about keeping your home safe and secure this summer.
- Remember to lock up
Opportunistic thieves take advantage of unlocked homes. Locking up sounds obvious, but in summer we frequently leave doors and windows open to catch the breeze and it’s easy to forget to check they are locked – particularly if you’re only going out for a short while. It only takes a few minutes for an accomplished thief to go through your house and make off with your most important valuables.
Always take the time to lock-up, even if you are only going out in the back yard. Install window locks and if you like to leave your windows open, it pays to install security mesh screens on your windows as well.
Remember, many insurance policies will not cover a burglary if your home is left unlocked. If you are in the habit of leaving doors and windows open in summer, check your policy and switch if necessary.
- Be careful with your keys
Many people hide a spare key to their house outside in the garden so they can let themselves in if they lose or forget their key. Thieves know all the best hiding spots, so we recommend you leave a key with a trusted friend or neighbour instead. Always make sure family members keep their keys in a secure location and avoid putting name and address tags on them in case they are lost. If you have teenagers, make sure they understand they are never to give their keys to a friend.
Never give a key to a tradesman or visitor. Keys can be easily copied and this is one of the most common errors people make. Thieves will pay a lot of money to get copies of your keys which provide fast access to your home.
- Seem like you’re at home
If you’re going away on holiday, ask the post office to hold your mail. You may also ask a friend or neighbour to collect and throw away any junk mail. Don’t let it pile up as this will make it obvious that you’re not around to collect it.
Remember to get someone to come and mow your lawn if you are going to be gone for any length of time. You could also ask a friend or family member to house-sit for you whilst you are gone.
Another great tip is to put internal and external lights on timers so it seems like you’re at home. You may also like to offer neighbours the chance to park in your driveway so people are always coming and going while you are gone.
- Don’t provide the tools
Thieves are quite opportunistic and will use whatever is on hand to gain access to your house. Make sure there are no bricks or other debris lying around your garden that a thief could use to break in. Remember to lock up your garage or garden shed so thieves do not use your own tools and ladders to force an entry. Don’t forget that your lawnmower and whipper snipper are quite valuable items and may be targeted if you don’t keep them safely locked away.
- Install an alarm
One of the best and most reliable forms of alarm system is a dog. Burglars will avoid homes with dogs because of the noise they make and the danger of being bitten. Even a ‘beware of the dog’ sign can make them think twice about targeting your home.
Alternatively, there are a variety of inexpensive window and door alarms available from your home hardware store. Thieves hate noise, so they are usually a very effective deterrent. If you want a more comprehensive system, get a quote from a security company who will also monitor your alarm system for you. That way you’ll keep your home safe and secure all year round.