HomeMoneyProperty

How to beat the burglars

BY Ben West

29th Apr 2023 Property

How to beat the burglars

There are a range of security products and methods to consider to protect your home from becoming a target of burglars 

Last year there were 266,283 domestic burglaries in England and Wales alone. The number will no doubt be rising rapidly this year, with things increasingly getting back to normal after months of pandemic restrictions, and people being away from their homes much more again.  

Added to that is the cost of living crisis further fuelling a boom in break-ins. 

Simple solutions


Something as simple as prickly plants around your home is a great deterrent from burglars

Fortunately, there are numerous ways to increase the security of your home, and many are cheap and simple to implement. These include such initiatives as having boundaries around your home with prickly plants like gorse, berberis, pyracantha (or firethorn), blackthorn or hawthorn in the garden, as they all sport nasty thorns.  

Have a car parked on the driveway to suggest that someone is in. Gravel on the driveway and pathways are surprisingly loud when walked on, especially in the dead of night. Always lock up sheds and garages, and garden tools and ladders. The latter two can be used to break into your home—burglars rarely carry tools but instead, use objects left lying around. Wheelie bins and garden furniture can be used to help scale the upper floors of the building, so chaining these up is another good deterrent. 

"Gravel on the driveway and pathways is surprisingly loud when walked on, especially in the dead of night"

Use a timer to turn lights on and off around the home when you are out. Leaving a radio or TV playing as well is even better. A cage attached to the back of your letterbox for your letters to drop into deters thieves from fishing for door keys, while a Neighbourhood Watch sticker on the window will also make a burglar think twice.  

Label goods with your postcode and house number using an ultraviolet pen, or buy a microdot anti-theft kit to mark your valuables with tiny metallic particles that each have a unique code linked to you. 

Smart doorbells

One of the most notable advances in home security was the launch of video doorbells and intercom systems, which entered the public’s mass consciousness with the Ring doorbell, which started out as a crowdfunded startup called Doorbot.

There are more and more smart doorbells like Ring on the market now, which capture video images of people approaching your home that you can monitor remotely, including products by Yale and Gira. 

Pets


A dog's bark might scare a burglar away, but it will also let an intruder know the alarm isn't activated

Pets are a mixed bag. The sound of a barking or growling dog puts off intruders.

"Evidence of a pet such as a cat flap suggests that the alarm won’t be activated"

However, a sign in the window saying “beware of the dog” or other evidence of a pet such as a cat flap suggests that the alarm won’t be activated. Also, a cat flap in a door weakens the door, making it easier to kick down. 

Locks 

Many homes in the UK only have one lock on the front and back doors, yet you need both a cylinder lock and a main deadlock at the very least—on both doors—to deter an intruder.  
 
Installing key-operated metal locks to all your accessible windows is also important. 

The latest gizmos


A good CCTV setup means you can keep an eye on your home from anywhere in the world

Motion-activated security floodlights outside the building are another valuable deterrent, and CCTV cameras are one of the most effective anti-burglar initiatives there is.  

Rapidly improving technology means such products are now more advanced than ever. For example, Ring, the company behind the smart doorbell range, has developed Spotlight Cams with motion-activated spotlights and infrared night vision sensors. If you see trouble with this, you can remotely activate a siren from your phone.  

Other companies offering similar products include Ezviz and Swann, and the latter’s Swann Enforcer CCTV kit records images in Ultra HD and has colour night vision. It only picks up the motion and heat signature of people, instead of moving objects that could trigger a false alarm, such as leaves moving in the wind, rain or pets. It works with Google Home and Amazon Alexa. 

Holidays 

Holidays are obviously a time when people feel especially vulnerable to burglars. As well as cancelling milk and newspaper deliveries, ask a trusted neighbour to keep a regular check on your home: just leaving post piling up in view is a gift to a burglar. Likewise, make sure stickers and calendars on the fridge that say anything indicating you’re away aren’t visible from the kitchen window.  

"Make sure stickers and calendars on the fridge that say anything indicating you’re away aren’t visible from the kitchen window"

If you’re getting a taxi to the airport, meet the driver a few doors along from your address: you never know who may be tipping off criminals. And think twice before plastering social media with posts about your holiday—or indeed your new expensive valuables. 

Storing valuables 


A safe is the best way to secure your valuables

Many people store valuables like jewellery and cash and important documents in drawers and other easily accessible places. A safe is a much better bet, as long as it is secured to the ground or too heavy to move.  

Failing that, store valuables in the loft as this is the least likely place a burglar will go, as they always want an escape route. 

Burglar alarms 

Simple yet good bells-only alarms start at just £100 or so, and have sensors or detectors placed in key locations around the home, with the alarm controlled via a panel and/or key fobs. Smart alarm systems start at around £200 and allow you to control your home security via an app on your phone, and possibly link other security devices, such as cameras.  

For the most comprehensive cover go for a monitored alarm by an alarm company such as ADT, Honeywell or Yale. For a monthly subscription, they will alert you or named individuals if the alarm is activated, and can notify the police or a private security team, depending on the level of coverage you want. 

Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter

*This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.

This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you. Read our disclaimer

Loading up next...