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Common sense 1

A Common Sense guide to safeguarding your property by fitting suitable door and window locks as well general advice on protecting your home. There are some simple steps you can take to increase the security of your house and possessions and reduce the chance of being burgled.

Being burgled is one of the most traumatic events imaginable … but you can do a great deal to prevent it happening. Much of the advice that follows is common sense - sometimes we just need a nudge to get started.

Start by walking around your property. How secure does it seem? Imagine that you've lost your key, and you need to break in! How many opportunities are there? Are there any open windows simply inviting an opportunist thief to enter? How many garden tools or, worse still, ladders, are lying around to help them? By now, you may well have discovered that your property is not as secure as you first thought.

The following list of areas to consider is by no means complete. However, it should encourage you to look at security in a new light.

Doors and keys

It is essential that your main entrance door is fitted with a 5-lever deadlock, and that it conforms to BS3621.

Check that all your doorframes are strong enough to protect your door. For example, there is little point in having an expensive lock when the frame is rotten! Equally, make sure that your door is also strong - hollow or internal doors are not suitable for external use.

Make sure that the door hinges cannot be unscrewed from outside.

Unless your front door is clear, install a wide-angle peephole to allow you to see who's outside.

Never attach your home address to your key ring. If you lose your keys, it's a wonderful invitation if an unscrupulous person picks it up.

Back doors are often forgotten when it comes to security. It is advisable to follow the same guide as for your main entrance door. Fit strong bolts both at the top and the bottom.

Sliding patio doors should be fitted with deadbolts. Also ensure that the sliding leaf is fitted on the inside.

Double doors or French windows should have security bolts fitted to the top and bottom of both doors, in addition to a quality lock.

For peace of mind, we all like a spare key to be readily available for those forgetful or unfortunate occasions that arise. However, don't be tempted to find a secret place to hide it. Burglars are likely to find it. It's much wiser to leave a spare key with someone you trust.

Don't leave your door open or unlocked, when you "just nip out" to the shops or to collect the kids from school. And never leave notes attached to your front door stating that you're out and when you'll be back. An opportunist thief only needs a couple of minutes to get in and make his getaway with your prized possessions.

Windows

Double-glazed lockable windows are ideal, and relatively inexpensive window locks are available for all other window types. Make sure that you fit them to all accessible windows and remember to lock them when you're out. It's also a sensible precaution to keep the key out of the view of people looking in through the window, but obviously close enough to the lock for use by your family in an emergency.

As with doors, ensure that the window frames are strong and not rotten.

Louvre windows attract a high degree of risk and an experienced thief will find them a relatively easy hurdle to overcome. If you are unable to make them secure, consider replacing them.

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