How to improve your home security

Melanie Whitehouse / 07 December 2015

Alone and feeling vulnerable? There’s no need to worry – just take these simple, cheap but effective measures to improve your home security and make you feel safer.

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.

Don’t leave spare keys under a doormat or plant pot where they can be easily found. It may seem obvious, but many people do still leave keys in places that thieves can find them.

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.

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.

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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

Quick fixes

Moving to a new house? Change all the locks as soon as you move in.

The first place thieves look are dresser drawers, wardrobes and the freezer, so avoid keeping jewellery etc here.

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.

Buy an electronic guard dog alarm from Amazon which gives a warning bark when someone approaches that turns more ferocious as they get nearer.

Clear shrubs and trees around the home, so burglars have nowhere to hide.

Put a padlock on your shed.

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.