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How to improve your home security

24 June 2021

Take these simple, cheap but effective measures to improve your home security and feel safer.

Locking window
Windows should be locked, even if they are not on the ground floor, and vulnerable windows should be double glazed

Keeping your home safe and secure is about more than just installing a burglar alarm and locking your doors. Here are our tips for making your home less attractive to thieves.

Secure your doors

If your front and back doors and frames are old, rotting or weak, invest in getting them repaired or replaced. Your external doors should be at least 4.4cm thick and hung with 10cm hinges.

Fit all outside doors with bolts and deadlocks – and use them! The more difficult you make it for an intruder to break in, the less likely they’ll bother. Doors are safest fitted with a five-lever mortise deadlock fitted through the Master Locksmith’s Association.

Fit a chain to your door, get a viewer put in - and always check who’s calling before letting them into your home.

Patio doors and French windows should have at least three multi-locking points.

Get laminated glass or plastic glazing film fitted to vulnerable glass panelled doors.

Read our tips for making your garden more secure

Secure your windows

Don’t leave windows open or unlocked anywhere in the house, even the upper floors which can be reached from ladders or a flat roof.

Fit locks on all windows: a third of all burglaries result from a thief getting in through a back window. Downstairs windows and those that can be accessed from low or flat roofs or near a drainpipe are particularly vulnerable, so consider fitting them with double glazing.

Take window keys out of the locks and hide them out of sight and out of reach.

If you have new windows fitted, they should comply to British Standard 7950 or PAS24.

If it’s dark outside and your lights are on, draw the curtains so people can’t see in.

Never leave a ladder lying around on your drive – burglars can use them to gain entry.

Remove valuables from window ledges – don’t tempt thieves to smash and grab. If your home can easily be peered into from the street it may be worth investing in some net curtains, blinds or window film. One-way film is available if you'd like privacy without losing your view.

Saga Home Insurance provides cover that goes beyond what you might expect. For more information and to get a quote click here.

Don't make your home too private

We all cherish our privacy, and if you live on a street with a lot of other houses on it, you may want fencing or hedges around your property to block out nosy neighbours.

This can also make your home more attractive to burglars because it blocks them from the view of your neighbours when they’re trying to break in.

Make sure you have working outdoor lighting (sensor activated if possible) and the foliage around your home is not too tall or dense.

Read our guide to burglar-proofing your home

Lights and alarms

According to an American study, homes without security systems are three times as likely to be broken into than homes with security systems. Install a burglar alarm that’s visible from the street. Fake boxes cost from £15 if you can’t afford a ‘real’ system.

The best places to put security cameras are the front and back doors and first floor windows.

Unlit properties provide the perfect environment for burglars to sneak in and out unnoticed, so fit an outdoor light, which costs from £8.

Timer switches are an inexpensive and useful tool against burglars. They will switch lights on and off at random, giving the impression someone is at home even when the house is empty.

Read our guide to choosing burglar alarms

Don't hide spare keys

Many of us are guilty of forgetting or losing our keys, so keeping a spare in a secret place outside the home has become a common ‘solution’. However, thieves have cottoned onto this method and can be extremely skilled at knowing where a key has been stashed away.

Putting a key under the doormat, taping it to the inside of the letterbox, or hiding it under a rock in the front garden is simply not good enough.

If a burglar finds the key, he/she can simply let themselves in and out of your home undetected — it may even take you some time to realise anything is missing. If you must keep a spare key outside the home, leave it with a trusted and responsible neighbour.

A key left with a trusted friend of family member can be used in emergencies, but it has to be a place where the entire household is trustworthy.

Read our guide to making your house more secure when you go on holiday

Hiding valuables

The first place thieves look are dresser drawers, wardrobes and the freezer, so avoid keeping jewellery or other valuables in those places.

Fool thieves by hiding valuables in fake food cans – eBay has a good selection – or a hollowed-out book ‘safe’, placed on a shelf with lots of other tomes. Keep precious jewellery in a cheap-looking box.

Install a false air vent – high up on the wall is best – with a hollow in the wall behind it.

Nothing is going to be 100% safe from savvy burglars who know all the tricks, so make sure you have the right home insurance cover and consider using a safe deposit box at your bank for irreplaceable valuables.

Read our guide to buying outdoor security lights

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.