Travel easy knowing the house is safe and the contents are protected from intruders
Protect your home from intruders with our expert tips
Knowing the house is properly locked up and protected is a critical part of enjoying a break, or even just a long workday, so it pays to review security methods before going away.
Prevention is better than cure says Neil Mitchelhill, business manager for security company Assa Abloy. ‘It’s not so much being paranoid about being burgled but taking sensible precautions.
‘Your home is your ultimate personal space and people who’ve been burgled often report that the feeling of violation is worse than having possessions stolen,’ he says.
Taking out insurance
Adequate insurance is essential. The security measures in a home affect the premium, with most major companies offering discounts for higher levels of protection.
Premiums can be reduced if all accessible doors and windows are fitted with key-lockable deadlocks, security doors or grilles. Alarms also have a positive impact on premiums.
The margin increases with the value of the home contents, so the higher the value of possessions insured, the more complex the security requirements.
Make accurate records of your valuables
If items are stolen make sure they are traceable or easily replaced.
ENGRAVE valuables and major appliances with a name and phone number.
KEEP A RECORD of the model number, serial number and value of each item.
PHOTOGRAPH items such as watches and jewellery.
JOIN the local Neighbourhood Watch group for the latest crime-prevention strategies.
Use these tricks
Don’t make the home an obvious target for thieves while on holiday.
CANCEL DELIVERIES and arrange mail collection.
TELL THE NEIGHBOURS so they can keep an eye out. Invite them to park a car in the driveway.
LOCK UP garden tools and ladders to deny them to intruders.
SET A TIMER to turn lights on.
DISCONNECT POWER to the electronic garage door.
Selecting door locks
It pays to invest in quality access doors with strong locks when building or renovating. Says Neil,
‘The range can be bewildering and the influx of cheap imports can add to the confusion but the best products combine security, safety and convenience.
‘Look for locks that meet accepted standards and have been tested for security, durability and corrosion resistance.’
A DEADBOLT is easy to install but the lock is only as good as the door, which should be solid core and at least 34mm thick. The frame is integral to the locking strength so quality deadbolts are supplied with a strike box and frame-strengthening screws.
A RIM LOCK is mounted directly on the door rather than on a deadbolt mechanism that fits into the door. It operates by depressing a trigger when the door closes, setting the lock to ensure the bolt can’t be pushed back, and key-locks it from both sides.
A LOCKSET is a lock and handle, available as key-lockable from one side, called a passage set, or both sides. The handles can be matched to the interior of the home for continuity.
There is security for most types of windows and new keyed locks match modern architectural styles. ‘Locks on windows are often referred to as secondary security but if they’re not included they are an easy access point for the opportunistic thief,’ Neil says.
‘Buy a lock that’s convenient to use and fit it immediately. It’s amazing how many people buy security products but leave them in a drawer.’
ONE KEY TO LOCK THEM ALL Modern locks for windows, back doors, screen doors and even padlocks for sheds and gates can all work with a single key.
A true story
Michiko Umebayashi changed her habits and upped security after an intruder tried to break into her first floor flat one night through a bathroom window on the balcony.
Michiko put lengths of dowel in the frames to stop windows from being slid open and installed window locks. ‘I now close windows when I’m out and in bed, and shut the curtains in the evening.’
Lighting the way
According to experts most home intrusions are opportunistic so any steps taken to make the house less inviting are positive. Good lighting
is a simple yet powerful solution.
A well-lit entrance and pathway is convenient for the homeowner
but is a big factor in deterring a would-be thief. Sensor security lights set to avoid activation by animals
or passers-by are the best option.
Brighter not better
It’s a misconception that the brighter the lights the better the security and strategic placement is the key.
FOR ENTRY DOORS choose lamps that use two bulbs so the light still works even if a bulb burns out. Two bulbs also provide a broader spread of light.
ON PATHS AND DRIVEWAYS a post light at the end is probably enough. Although for longer stretches consider low-voltage ground lighting at intervals along the path.
UNDER WINDOWS install uplights or fixtures mounted in the ground to direct light up through trees and shrubs, choosing low-voltage lamps.
UNDER THE DECK if you have a basement door or a window that opens, it should be lit. Use a standard fixture with a motion sensor.
GARAGE DOOR mount a motion detector-equipped floodlight above to illuminate anyone driving or walking up the drive.
Avoid a break-in
MAN'S BEST FRIEND is a great deterrent says Neil. ‘Even if it’s an old dog, the barking draws attention and is enough to put off a potential intruder.’
DIFFICULT ACCESS with high locked gates can deter thieves, as can an entrance in full public view.
LIGHT AND SOUND with good sensor lights are effective but a back-to-base alarm is the best protection, with stickers warning thieves the alarm is in place.
This article originally appeared in the Dec 10/Jan 11 issue of Australian Handyman magazine.