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How can I protect my home from burglars?

Now that people aren't stuck at home quite as much, there's the potential for an increase in burglaries.

And more than a third (37%) of Brits have been a victim of burglary, according to our research.*

Burglar enters a home at night

So, what can you do to beef up your home security ? 

Luckily you don't need to take young Kevin McCallister’s approach in Home Alone. Here are some more straightforward, not to mention safer, tips.

 

Secure your doors

Keep your doors locked, even when you’re home. 

That might sound like overkill but 64% of burglaries happen while someone’s at home, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

And 15% of successful burglars got in through the front door because it wasn't locked. 

Something as simple as locking up could be enough of a deterrent for an opportunistic thief looking for an easy score. 

 

Replace the locks

Always ensure that your door locks meet the standards set by your home insurance company, and if you’ve just moved into your home it makes sense to change the locks. After all, you’ve no idea how many people - from tradespeople to neighbours - could have copies of your keys.

Alternatively, you might want to consider upgrading to ‘smart keys’, which enable you to simply update your keys with a re-keying process, whenever a key is lost or you want to change the lock.

 

Store keys safely

Always keep your keys away from your front door. Thieves might hook these through the letterbox and let themselves in. 

The ONS says that 6% successful burglars got in because they had a key.

And our research shows that around one in four people leave their keys either in or near their door.

Also, some thieves can use nearby keys to break into your car using keyless relay technology.

 

Regularly change alarm codes

Almost a third (30%) of Brits have a burglar alarm installed in their house. It’s an effective form of home security but how often do you change the code? Security experts suggest you change it twice a year at least, and whenever you feel it might have been compromised. 

 

Invest in smart home security

As many as 14% of homeowners now have some form of smart home security.

Smart home tech could be an easy, affordable option if you want to beef up your home security. 

You can hook your outdoor lights to your Wi-Fi and automate when they come on. And a smart doorbell camera lets you know who's lurking outside without you needing to go near the door. 

Many of these gadgets are self-install, so you don't need to worry about getting someone in to sort it for you. 

Compare home insurance quotes

 

Close and lock your windows

There’s little point in installing the best lock on your front door, or investing in smart home security if you leave your windows open.

Unlocked or open windows are not only a gift to opportunistic burglars but they could also invalidate your home insurance.

 

Review outside of the house

Stand in front of your house and look at it through the eyes of a burglar: are there any obvious hiding spots? Also think about the clues you might be leaving about your wealth and valuable items you might own. 

Windows allow thieves to see straight into your home. Remove any high-value items from near the window so thieves can't take inventory by peering in.

Also be mindful of what's visible in your bins eg TV boxes or medications, so you don't advertise what's inside. 

 

Leave a light on

Light suggests that you’re home, even if you aren’t. However, don’t leave a light on that grants thieves a prime view of your new TV.

If you’re away on holiday, it’s worth considering using timers or getting trusted neighbours to switch lights on and off for you.

 

Light up the outside

Darkness provides cover for burglars, so consider installing some outside lighting. Motion sensors could switch them on if someone is approaching your home and put thieves under the spotlight.

 

Lock down your WiFi network

Your possessions aren’t the only thing your thieves are after. Your personal and financial information are also valuable commodities and your WiFi network provides the perfect gateway to them. If you use smart home devices, cracking your WiFi network could also give IT savvy thieves access to your home.

You can protect your WiFI network in a number of ways, for example securing wireless routers, using firewalls and ensuring you have anti-virus and anti-malware protection. It’s also vital to ensure you have strong passwords on all your tech.

 

Keep mum 

If you're going away, be careful who you tell. 

Letting a trusted neighbour know so they can keep an eye on things might be worth it. But telling the whole street might not. 

According to the ONS, 43% of burglars were people known to the victim, at least in passing. 

Avoid letting it be known on social media that the house is going to be empty. That includes checking in at holiday destinations on Facebook and waiting until you’re home to post your snaps.

The same applies for telling people when you're expecting a plumber or electrician. A thief could pose as a worker to gain access to your home without suspicion. 

 

Get a safe

Any important documents could be used by a thief to steal your identity. That includes passports, birth certificates and insurance documents. 

Also, anything with great value - sentimental or otherwise - might be better off in a secure place. 

A strong home safe could give these items extra protection from both theft and fire. 

Make sure you secure the safe itself eg bolt it to the floor, or it might become easy pickings. 

The most stolen items are:

ITEM % OF BURGLARY VICTIMS THAT SAID THIS ITEM WAS STOLEN
Jewellery
0.3
Money
0.25
Garden / outdoor items
0.23
Sentimental items
0.22
Laptop / computer / TV
0.21

 

Make things easier for yourself

These next tips aren't going to prevent a burglary, but they could help you out if you’re a victim of one. 

Make sure you have a robust contents insurance policy. A policy designed to cover your items from theft could come in handy if you're burgled. 

Mark your items with UV ink. Use a UV pen to write your name and address on electrical and computer equipment.

If it's stolen and the police recover it, you might be able to get it back.

Register important items with the police. You can register certain possessions using Immobilise, a police database.

This helps keep track of stolen possessions e.g. if a thief tries to sell it on. 

Read our guide on what to do if you get burgled for more information. 

 

*Figures taken from omnibus research carried out by One Poll on behalf of Confused.com. This was an online poll of 2,000 UK homeowners and renters (nationally representative sample). The research was conducted between 4 and 6 May 2021.