In recent years crime in Britain has increased at an alarming rate. The upward trend is continuing and the need to consider household security has never been more important. In this series we will discuss which security devices to use where and how to fit them; we also look at the different types of insurance.
A burglary or theft occurs every 30 seconds throughout Britain; if present trends continue, by the early 1980s it could become as frequent as every 15 seconds. Your best protection is to be prepared; to be aware of the daily need to think security both inside and outside the home.
It is impossible to be specific about who is likely to intrude on your premises, but most security consultants, including the police, consider there are three basic groups:
- The young offender bent on petty pilfering, and in some instances vandalism, who is often able to gain access through the smallest openings.
- The occasional sneak thief seeking available cash and easily transportable household valuables.
- The professional burglar or gang seeking more important valuables such as antiques, paintings, objets d’art, jewellery or cash — possibly contained in house safes.
Provided your premises are properly secured, you should reasonably expect to have protected yourself against the first two groups. The professionals are unlikely to be deterred by any but the most sophisticated alarm installations; but if you make it apparent you have taken care to guard against entry, even these intruders may decide to seek easier pickings elsewhere.
If you are in any doubt about a security problem, go to your local police station and seek the advice of the crime prevention officer. CPOs can be found in virtually every area of Britain and their experience and knowledge of security devices, including details of how to fit them, will prove invaluable. The service is free.
- Whether you are at home, out shopping or leaving the house empty for several weeks, there are many simple measures you can — and should — take to make the criminal’s task more difficult.
- Whenever you leave the house
- Lock all doors and windows and remove keys.
- Lock garages and sheds and lock away ladders and tools.
- Never leave visible notes for trades people.
- Don’t leave keys under mats or in obvious positions.
- Never leave a key on a string behind the letter box; this habit will not go unnoticed.
- In the daytime open the curtains; at night close them and leave a light on — other than that in the hall; better still, fit a time switch to one or two lights so they come on as dusk falls.
- Never leave cars or bicycles unlocked, even if in a garage.
- Never leave a window open for the cat to get in and out; provide a cat door.
- When leaving your car always lock valuables in the boot, again even when in a garage. Better still, take them with you.
- When shopping never leave a purse where it can be stolen such as in a basket, on a counter or in a pram. Use a small holdall rather than a basket.
- Before going on holiday
- Tell your neighbours and the police so they can watch the house for you.
- Cancel all household deliveries, such as milk and newspapers.
- Ask a friend or neighbour to draw the curtains each night (and open them in the morning) and leave one or two lights on to give the house a lived-in appearance. Again it would be a good idea to fit a time switch so the lights will not be on all night and attract attention. Also ask someone to remove any circulars from your letter box.
- If you intend to be away for a long time, make arrangements for your lawn to be mown — overgrown grass can be an obvious giveaway.
- Always leave the security chain fixed so. When you open the door, no one can burst in.
- Always check the credentials of callers such as meter readers; all public employees carry official identification — ask to see it.
- Teach children not to open the door to strangers.
- Ensure the whereabouts of exit door keys is known to family and guests in the event of fire breaking out.
- Keep all documents, such as bank and credit cards, cheque books, insurance policies and passports in a safe place; but always keep cheque books separate from bank and credit cards which can be used to verify cheques.
- Keep duplicates of all keys in a secure place such as a safe; the loss of any could seriously affect security.
Every home and its contents should be properly insured (details of which will appear later in the Course); but this is not sufficient security on its own. Insurance can never recover the real value you place on your possessions or compensate for the mental distress caused by intrusion.