Home security is so much more than finding your lost house keys.
We have rounded up some key facts and figures in the below infographic to raise awareness and provide some simple tips to help you stay secure, especially in these dark winter nights.
Burglary and Theft of property in the UK
An extraordinary fact to start; a house is burgled every 40 seconds in the UK! That is over 750,000 break-ins a year, which accounts for about 3% of all properties in the UK. Although this figure doesn't seem high, the consequences show that it is not worth taking the risk!
Burglars will steal all sorts of items. As long as they can sell the item, they will take it. A whopping 91% of property stolen during a burglary is personal property. This includes items such as mobiles, tablets, laptops, purses, wallets and jewellery, which are all high value goods and can make good money on the black market.
A typical theft can take only a few minutes, in which a thief will make a quick entry and grab as many things as they can before they are detected. The average cost of a burglary in the UK is £2,623. This not includes the cost of replacing the stolen property, but also fixing any damage to property, and locksmith or tradesman fees.
Whilst properties with house and contents insurance will most likely pick up the bill, you are still likely to pay an admin or excess for this to happen. Quite worryingly, 25% of homeowners or tenants do not have any insurance and are forced to foot the bill themselves.
Now that it is winter, this means that the nights are getting longer, and we have more darkness than daylight during every 24-hour day. This provides the perfect cover for would-be thieves to try their luck and break in to properties. Therefore, these leads to increased crime rates during the winter months, which further highlights the importance of good property security.
Of all the winter months, January is the month with the highest crime rate. The reason for this is simple; Christmas means that many people have little or no money from an expensive festive season. Burglary is an easy method to try and make some quick cash from selling stolen possessions. Many homes also have lots of new, expensive goods which have been gifted during Christmas.
how do they enter and what do they take?
Unsurprisingly, windows and doors are the easiest forms of entry for burglars. Entry by door accounts for 2/3 house entries, whilst access by door makes up an additional 30%. Other unwelcomed entries include through garage or basement doors. Any gap big enough to get a body through is a potential entry point.
Many thieves are opportunistic and will try their luck by 'testing' windows and doors to look for potential for unforced entry. Any doors or windows that are not secure by lock and key or not properly fitted will provide the perfect opportunity.
However, this does not mean that you are safe from theft. Some 'professional' thieves will force entry by smashing glass panels in windows or doors, or smashing locks if they can see the goods they desire.
Of all property, money and computers are the most commonly stolen goods with each item taken at a rate of one in three burglaries. This is followed closely by other electricals - such as tablets, TV's and games consoles – jewellery and mobiles.
How do you prevent a burglary?
Unfortunately, it is not possible to be 100% theft-proof, but you can significantly improve your chances with a few simple tips.
1. Keep valuable items out of plain sight – Make sure that your high value goods are not left by any doors or windows. This includes any keys or personal or financial documents. Shut curtains or blinds and close internal doors which will prevent view of other possessions such as televisions or sound systems.
2. Keeping internal and external lighting on when it starts to get dark is a simple tactic that everybody can do. The presence of light makes it seem that people are home, even if they are not and hence putting lights on timers is a very cheap, effective way of doing this.
However, it may attract unwanted attention if the same lights are left on during the same hours every day or even if lighting is left on during daylight hours.
3. Another common indicator that your home is empty and could be a target for burglary is by simply leaving the bins out. Having your bins stay out longer than the day they are collected is a clear indicator that you are away, however, by making sure you bring in the bins the same day reduces your risk. If you know you will be away for longer, ask a neighbour or a friend if they can do this for you whilst you are away.
Bonus Tip: Make sure you do not put any personal or financial information in with your rubbish, and make sure any packaging from expensive goods you have recently purchased is disguised and hidden from view – a typical example being flat screen TV boxes!
4. As previously mentioned, external lighting is a great deterrent for burglars. However, all this lighting is useless if there are large trees and bushes that provide shadow and places to hide. To avoid this issue, it is best to make sure all shrubbery is maintained so that it limits any 'black spots' on your property. However, bushes can provide adequate shelter and privacy from passers-by and neighbours, so keep this in mind.
Bonus Tip: If you maintain your garden yourself, make sure that any tools such as ladders, garden shears or hammers are put away and outbuildings or garages are as secure as your house.
5. One of the most basic but effective tips is to make sure all doors and windows are locked and secure. This means to make sure that they are closed when not being used (even when you are in) and that the locks work and will not break easily. Any keys for the locks should be removed from the inside, and put in a safe place away from the location. Remember, as we stated earlier, 96% of burglars enter through doors and windows, with 20% of all burglars not having to use forced entry.
6. Another simple tip that can be automated by use of a timer, is leaving TV or radios on when the property is empty. The sound of music or conversation makes it seem like somebody is in even when they are not. This is so effective because it warns off many budding thieves from attempting a break in. Using this automation tip along with automated lighting makes break-in attempts even less likely
7. If you have a house alarm or similar security system, make sure you always turn this on – no matter how long or short you will be away! A security system that is on is usually visible from the exterior of the house and provides that extra deterrent and 2-3 times less likely to be a victim. Unsurprisingly, 60% of burglaries carried out on houses with house alarms turned on are unsuccessful.
8. If you lose your keys and can't find your lost keys, you should consider changing them as soon as possible. Whilst it is unlikely that your house is unidentifiable from just from your keys, if you lose them near the property, you are a victim waiting to happen. This is also applicable if you've lost your car keys.
9. Having secure locks on your property is imperative, however, additional locks improve your security further. Consider installing deadbolts to doors on the internal side as these are very difficult to force an entry through.
10. Almost everybody has social media these days, and clever thieves are looking for new ways to find victims. If you go on holiday or are away from your property for a longer period than usual, make sure you do not post anything about your upcoming trip before or even post-holiday photos whilst you are away. Can you trust every single contact that can see your social media pages?
Whilst there is a lot of information in the above list, most of them can be simple fixes just by being aware of them. It is important to remember that home security is more than finding your lost keys or replacing you locks if you can't.
Over the next few winter months, be aware, and keep a look out for any suspicious activity around your neighbourhood. If you think it is safe to do so, keep your neighbours updated with when you will be home and away, asking them to keep a look out as well.
At Recover-Key, we are passionate about home security, particularly with finding your lost house keys or lost car keys. We provide a simple solution to find your lost keys, and we are contactable 24/7 to help return your keys to you.
For the latest advice on home security, be sure to follow us on social media or leave us a comment below: