Depending on where you live your exposure to robberies will vary greatly. With continued cuts to the police force, it may come as no surprise that robbery offences were up by 29% across the UK in 2017.
Most people I know do not take-home security very seriously, at best they just lock their doors, and maybe have an alarm fitted. It is very common for thieves to exploit poor security measures such as getting access to your house via your back garden, quite often through an unlocked back door. Theft from unlocked or poorly secured garages is particularly common, and something I have experienced myself.
Sadly, if a thief is determined there is not a lot you can do about it, but implementing some simple solutions can make your property less appealing.
So, what cost-effective solutions are there to protect your home?
Locks are the primary defence from thieves, but many people do the bare minimum to secure your home. Many cheap ways can vastly improve your home security.
Firstly, the cheapest option, because it is free, is to ensure all your doors are locked as often as possible. Most people keep their front door lock, but often leave the back door unlocked; this works well for criminals because not only does it provide easy access to your home, but accessing it via your yard is more discrete with less chance of neighbours seeing them enter. Garages and gates should also be locked when not in use.
Upgrading your locks and fitting new locks is the next logical step to make. Many sheds and garage side doors have no lock, so buying a decent padlock and latch will make your property less attractive to want to be thieves.
Nearly all uPVC locks in the UK are woefully inadequate and prone to lock bumping. Your typical UK thief that steals bikes and power tools probably doesn’t carry around a set of bump keys, but a replacement Yale cylinder that is bump proof can be bought for as little as £20 on Amazon and takes about 15 minutes to fit yourself.
Most people ignore burglar alarms when they go off, and the people that do have them fitted often don’t use them. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one; they are affordable and modern systems are usually straightforward to fit as they can be completely wireless.
They will definitely help act as a deterrent, and some new systems can come with a mobile SIM socket and can alert you via a notification if and when your alarm goes off. So, your neighbours might ignore the alarm, but if you are away from home, you can alert the police or someone nearby to check on the property.
Some expensive alarm systems are managed too, so if the alarm goes off, a company will be notified. These are great but the subscription costs can be prohibitive.
Back when I first bought my house CCTV systems were expensive and ugly, with large cameras that needed data and power cables routing through to an HDD based recorder. However, in recent years there has been a massive boom in home surveillance options that cover all budgets and requirements. In particular wire-free systems such as Netgear Arlo and Blink XT allow you to implement surveillance quickly and simply. They don’t have big expensive hard-drive-based recorders, instead uploading data to the cloud, and the wire-free design means no more drilling holes into the side of your house. They can be set up to provide motion alerts so you can be notified when anyone enters your property.
CCTV is claimed to be one of the best deterrents for burglars, and they can also be used to help provide information to the police or for insurance claims.
You can complement outdoor CCTV with various indoor options. Both Blink and Netgear Arlo have indoor cameras, or you can look into wireless spy cameras for discrete surveillance. These options can be handy as the outdoor cameras often have a lot of false positive alerts, so if you are away from home and get an indoor alert, you know for sure there is someone within your home.
While not a significant factor in deterring criminals, they can help. Many thieves want to access your property as discrete as possible so using motion detecting flood lights exposes them. It can also help alert people within the property to motion outside.
When used with CCTV you can help improve the quality images captured.
Smart Home Sensors / Home Automation
There are a variety of sensors you can use with a smart home system to help improve your security. There are several door and window sensors that can be used to alert you when a door is opened or a window is open. Using some advanced functions within a home controller or via IFTTT you can have your system alert you if a door or window open when you are not at home using geofencing based on your mobile phone position.
Then there are some excellent multi-sensors and motion sensors. These can alert you when something or someone moves in your home when you are not there.
You can also use these sensors, or just schedules to automate your home lighting mimicking someone being within the house even when you are away.
For any high-value items or documents, it is wise to invest in a safe. Cheap ones are notoriously easy to break into, but they can at least slow down a thief. Investing in a more expensive safe can ensure your high-value items are secure from the vast majority of thieves. Some safes come with an insurance rating which will cover the cost of any goods or cash in the safe to the value of the rating. Alternatively, a fireproof safe are a fantastic option, if you have any very important documents or irreplaceable items the last thing you would want is them damaged in a fire.
Personal protection is a contentious subject in the UK, in general, if you are home when someone breaks in it is advised not to confront them for your own safety. However, keeping some basic personal protection such as a defense stick can be helpful as a last resort measure.