Don’t leave the door open to summer crooks, say experts

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Going away these summer holidays? With burglary one of the most common crimes, it’s important to consider the security of your home while you are away, so that you don’t return to any disasters.

Although contents insurance will pay compensation, nothing can pay for the stress it causes, or replace the personal items you might have lost as a result of a burglary.

NHBC, the UK’s leading warranty provider and standard setting body for new build homes, offers the following summer security tips to help you keep your home and possessions safe and secure while you’re away on holiday.

Most new homes in the UK come with security locks, burglar alarms and security lighting included as part of the standard specification ensuring that homeowners live in a safe and secure environment.

Check your window locking systems: Ground floor windows and any others that are easily reached by climbing are recommended to have an automatic lock at the press of a button that needs a key to open them. If you own a home built in the last ten years, this may already have modern security locks. Installing modern locks may also lower your house and contents insurance premiums.

Improve the security potential of your doors: It is important to have robust locks on both the front and back doors, as well as a 180° door viewer to check on callers, a door opening limiter and hinge bolts on outward opening doors. Newer properties may already have these installed.

Do you have detection lighting?: Crime can be prevented by external detection security lighting that switches on after dark when someone is nearby, illuminating the general area. This allows both you and a neighbour to see a possible intrusion.

Benefits of an alarm system: A house alarm systems acts in two ways – to deter intruders, and detect the opening of a window or a door. Some systems can also be linked up to a mobile phone number letting the owner know the alarm has been triggered.

When you are away from home – try to make it look occupied!

Leave the lights on in the evening (but not just hall or landing lights) or use an automatic time switch.

Remember to cancel papers, milk and other deliveries before going on holiday

If you’re away for a length of time, arrange for a neighbor to cut your grass and generally keep an eye on the home while you are away.

Never leave valuable and easily transportable items like video units or car keys where they can be seen by looking through a window. The temptation may prove too much for a passing burglar.

Hide small valuable items like jewellery.

More advice from the police includes:

Photograph valuable items and use the new marking methods available, so that your goods can be traced if stolen. Make a note of serial numbers

Whenever you leave the home – even to visit a neighbour for a short time – make sure all doors and windows are securely locked.

If your front door can be locked by a key from the inside, make sure that you have a spare key in a convenient place near the front door so that you can get out quickly.

Do not leave ladders, steps etc. visible in the garden

Make your back garden private and secure. Lock rear entry gates. Plant prickly shrubs against wall and fences where access is possible.

Keep front hedges and fences no more than waist high, so that neighbours can see your front and side doors.

Mark Jones of the NHBC said: ”Spending money on security measures is a good investment. It will last a long time, can add value to your property and offers peace of mind that your home and belongings are well protected.

“If you live in a newer property, you may already have security locks, burglar alarms and security lighting included as part of the standard specification. But there are also a number of simple measures people can take to keep their homes and property safe from burglars over the summer holiday months.”