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Top tips to keep your home secure

According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there were an estimated 667,000 burglaries in the year ending June 2017. Although that's 11% lower than the previous year, it still means that three in every 10 households were broken into.

According to the Police , homes with no security measures are five times more likely to be burgled than those with basic security systems in place. Protecting your home needn't cost a lot - by taking just a few simple steps, you can dramatically reduce the chance of a burglary. To help, we've put together some handy tips for securing your home.

Doors

Doors are the main point of entry for criminals, who either kick them down or force the locks to gain entry. All doors need to be strong and secure; they should be at least 4.4cm thick and hung with 10cm hinges. A latch will offer added protection, while a viewer will allow you to see who is knocking at your door.

Given that glass can be easily smashed, you should consider replacing any panels in your doors with laminate glass, which is stronger. Otherwise, you could buy plastic glazing film to place over the glass to reinforce it. Doors need to be locked whenever you leave your home. Bear in mind that UPVC doors need to be double locked, so lift the handle and turn the key.

Windows

Window locks act as good deterrents and should be used on all ground floor windows, as well as first floor windows criminals can easily access. Choose a lock that secures the window to the frame, rather than to the handle.

Windows should be locked whenever you leave the house, with keys stored in a secure place - not in the lock or on the windowsill. Thieves have been known to break into homes even when the owners are in, so make sure windows and doors are locked when you aren't near them, particularly when you're out in the back garden.

Keys

The plant pot will be the first place criminals look for your spare set of keys; don't make it easy for them. When you're at home, don't leave keys in view or near your front door, as burglars can steal them using a hook posted through the letterbox.

If you've just moved into a new home – or are planning to move soon – get the locks changed as soon as possible as you never know who might hold a spare key to your property.

Lights

Install motion sensor security lighting outside your property to ensure the building and surroundings are well-lit. All lights should be placed high up, out of reach, above any doors at the front or to the rear of the building.

Alarms and CCTV

It can be a good idea to install a quality burglar alarm outside the front of your home, making sure the bell box is highly visible to criminals. The Which? website contains information on types of burglar alarms, as well as a list of top-rated alarm brands.

While it might be cheaper to buy a fake alarm for your home, it won't offer you any real protection. Plus, some savvy criminals are able to tell the difference between genuine and bogus alarms

Inside the home

Never leave expensive possessions on show, as burglars will be more tempted to break in if they've seen something they like through the window. Any expensive or sentimental items should be marked with a UV pen, recording your name, address and contact number. You can register each item for free on Immobilise, a website which assists the police in identifying and recovering stolen household items.

If you own any high-value items, such as such as jewellery, you should consider storing them in a secured safe or bank vault.

Outside the home

If you've got a long driveway, gravel will make a silent approach tricky for criminals. All gates should be locked and the fences around your home should be good quality (you need to fix any fallen panels). Make sure any high hedges are trimmed regularly to improve the natural surveillance of your home.

Never leave tools or ladders lying around in your garden as they could help burglars with breaking into your home.

Garages and sheds

Garages and sheds should be fitted with high quality safety locks. If you store bikes in your garage or shed, make sure they're locked to an immovable object. If you have multiple bikes, lock them together using a sturdy D-lock or cable lock.

Visitors

Always be wary of strangers knocking at your door, especially if they tell you they're from a company and need to check something within your home, such as gas, electric or water. Before letting anyone in, you should confirm their identity by calling the company they claim to be from. Use the number listed in your local directory, and not the number they give you because it could be fake.

While the majority of tradespeople are trustworthy, if you don't know them personally then it's important to remain diligent – don't leave any valuables on display. Common scams include so-called tradesmen claiming on your insurance for an 'accident' they had in your home; and sometimes people will visit your home and pass on information to criminals, such as the time of day you're out, whether you have pets, and how many people live in your home.

TrustMark is an online service that allows you to search for local, reliable tradesmen who operate to government-endorsed standards.

Pets

Animal theft, in particular 'dognapping,' is a serious issue in Britain. If you have any expensive, exotic or rare breed pets then you must take steps to protect them. When you're out on walks, be wary of the people around you as criminals have been known to follow people home and wait for the right moment to break in and steal the animal. Refrain from posting pictures of expensive pets on social media as they could be seen by the wrong people.

Going on holiday

The key to keeping your home secure while you're away is making it look like it's occupied. Use timers for lights, radios and TVs to give the impression someone is in during the evenings, and ask a trusted neighbour to keep a watchful eye over your home.

A build-up of mail, milk or papers outside your door is a tell-tale sign you're on holiday, so either cancel the deliveries or get your neighbour to bring everything inside. Again, don't advertise the fact you're going to be away from home on social media – that's an open invitation for burglars and could invalidate your home insurance.

Protect your home and contents with Hastings Direct

Taking the above steps will help to keep your home as secure as possible. However, having quality home contents insurance in place is also really important, as it will protect you against the financial impact of burglary and theft.

Our home contents insurance covers all items in your home that aren't part of the building. You're protected from loss and damaged caused by a number of factors, including theft and vandalism, fire and natural disasters.

Home insurance

Our refreshingly straightforward home insurance is Defaqto 5 Star rated, so you can be sure you're getting a great product. Plus you can choose from a great range of optional extras.

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