IFA Rural Crime Prevention Executive Colin Connolly sets out six key areas to concentrate on to protect your home from burglary and theft.
Having your house broken into is a traumatic event; knowing that a stranger has been in your home can have a devastating effect on victims of any age.
Everyone’s requirements will be unique but simple steps can help to protect your home in a cost-effective manner without the need for major financial investment.
Doors & windows
Consider fitting a door viewer, door chain and limiter. A lock is only as strong as the door you have. Never leave a key in the door. As far as possible, try to use a letter box that is outside the property on the wall. Always consider your personal and fire safety in terms of any security measures and ensure that you do not create any difficulty in getting out of your home in an emergency.
Make sure that windows are also secure and if they are alarmed, test them. Remember the Velux or roof windows too and any additions to your property, extensions, utility rooms and so on. Consider fitting window restrictors, which are ideal for ventilation – they only allow limited opening and are also an excellent protection for children.
Criminals do not like light; make sure that your property is well lit. Dusk to dawn sensor lights can be very effective. Use timer controlled lights inside the property. Lights around the front door of your property are excellent, they will allow you to see a person’s face through the door viewer – remember a genuine visitor will appreciate the light. If you have a light and it has stopped working. Inspect it to check if it is just a bulb failure or if the failure is malicious.
Do not leave keys in door locks. Keys can be fished through the letter box with ease. Create safe storage for keys in your home – perhaps a small key locker where keys can be stored when not in use. If keys are left in view they will encourage the criminal.
Valuables and cash
Property that is marked or identifiable is less appealing to a criminal; it is harder to sell on and a criminal does not want to be found with it. Valuable items like jewellery, watches, laptops, and so on should be marked, photographed and recorded. Remember to include these items on your house insurance. In the event of a claim, proof of ownership will be required so keep records.
Do not keep large quantities of cash in your home; use the local post office or credit union to keep cash safe and only withdraw as you need to. Consider a small safe for storing jewellery and personal documents.
Having a working house alarm is very important. There are many security companies that offer this service but you should only use a reputable and registered installer. A monitored alarm is best as they alert designated people in the event of activation.
Test your alarm regularly and make sure you use it at all times. Be aware of the zone functions of your alarm and while home in the evening set the exterior alarm. Even if you are only popping out to the school run or the shop, set the alarm. Teach children how to set the alarm and be aware of the panic alarm button in your home.
Sheds, gardens and yards also hold valuable items and the same attention should be given to securing these items.
Some of the most common items stolen are fuel, home heating oil, power tools, lawnmowers and trailers. I would advise people to look at their oil tank; make sure it has a lock fitted and that it is well lit up. Ask yourself how accessible it is. Power tools, lawnmowers, trailers and other items should be marked and their details recorded. Theft Stop is a simple cost effective way of marking and recording your valuable property and machinery. An Garda Siochana communicate with Theft Stop to verify ownership of marked items, so, if a stolen item is located it can be returned to you with ease.
Sheds and outhouses should be secured. Doors should be locked with robust locks and the shed alarmed where possible. Finally a good CCTV system installed by a reputable person will add peace of mind and having CCTV cameras trained on strategic locations on your property will deter criminals.