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Crime reduction tips to reduce the risk of your property from being burgled

Timer switches: the use of timer switches can deceive a potential suspect to think that someone may be in the property. Have one in the lounge that comes on at dusk and one in the bedroom that comes on later that night. Timer switches can not only be used with lamps but also radios so voices can be heard by anyone outside the property.

Security lights: worked by a sensor, have these located around the outside of the property so that anyone going around the back for example will activate them. Consider also having a switch in a bedroom and downstairs so you can activate themselves if you hear someone. Make sure that the lights when activated by a sensor do not go off after just a few seconds.

CCTV: If you can afford this, consider installing closed a closed circuit television system with cameras outside and make sure it can record. In certain situations "dummy" cameras can be quite effective.

Insecure windows and doors:- A lot of burglaries happen by offenders entering the property through an insecure window or door. Make sure you lock your windows and doors when not in use and when you leave the property.

Locks: A 5 Lever Motice lock (British standard BS3621) is the standard lock that is suitable for a front door to accompany a rim lock. Most insurance companies will require this and it to be used when the property is unoccupied.

The door itself should be British Standard PAS 24. On PVC doors the locks are normally integrated and effective but make sure the lock is fully engaged and remove the keys after locking. Windows should also have locks on them and if in vulnerable locations such as a rear window on a flat roof an extra lock can be added for increase security.

Patio doors can also benefit from extra locks and locks for the purpose are on the market. The condition of the frame, hinges and any glass panels should be checked. Details about the certification of the locks and which are best for different type of windows can be found on the Master lock smith's association website: http://www.locksmiths.co.uk/homeSecurity/default.asp and type of locks can be discussed with specialised lock companies that can be found in the yellow pages or on the internet.

Items left out: don't leave item lying around that a potential offender could use to break into your property, this includes tools, loose bricks, general debris and ladders. Secure items in shed, garage or outbuilding with a British Standard close shackle padlock.

Property mark: property mark all items of value with a UV pen or forensic security coding pack. The UV pen works by writing your house name or number and postcode on the item and if the item is stolen and comes into police hands we check everything with a UV light and the address should appear for us to then make enquires and to hopefully return the item to you.

The forensic coding systems use a chemical solution that just needs to be placed on the item of value and left to dry (follow the instructions on the package), again if the item is found to have the solution on it when checking with a UV light this will be sent to a laboratory for the solution to be checked to see what house and resident it is register to. Contact your local crime reduction advisor for any further advice.

Items on display: Don't leave valuable items on full display. If you get a new TV for example don't leave it in full view in front of the window with the empty box displayed outside for the bin men to collect. Use blinds and curtains to stop persons seeing into your property from the road.

Trellis and garden security -Use Trellis on top of fencing and walls at the side and rear of your property as this is generally the point of entry for an offender as they think they are less likely to be seen. Prikka Strip is also an effective way to stop persons climbing your fence. This can be found at most security companies and at DYI stores.

Keys that are exposed: Don't leave your keys on display - Don't leave items of value around the front door or leave your keys on display for potential suspects to target by gaining access to your property through the letterbox. Some offenders target nice vehicles and gain the keys by putting a hook through the letterbox and taking the keys. Keys should be in a safe place in case of a fire but not on display for potential offenders.

Burglar alarms - a visible burglar alarm also works as a deterrent. If you decide to get an alarm make sure you speak with at least 3 companies and quotes from each of them with details of the packages they are offering. Make sure the security company is regulated by either NSI or SSAIB and has been accredited to ensure they are a good standard.

Post, Milk and Newspaper deliveries: Make sure you cancel your newspapers and milk if you are going to be away and as many properties now have outside letter boxes, ask a friend or neighbour to empty each day so there is not post exposed from a full letter box.

Local Neighbourhood watch: Look out for each other. It is a known fact that some offenders do not like Neighbourhood watch areas and avoid them. Even if you don't have a watch scheme look after each other and identify vulnerable people in your road/area that could be assisted by the local community. For example if a neighbour is having problems with their gardening, maybe you could help or direct them to a charity that could help with their gardening needs. Offenders target properties where an elderly or vulnerable person may live. Watch each others properties while on holiday as they can then repay the favour when you are away.

With thanks to the Thames Valley Police Crime Prevention and Reduction Advisor at High Wycombe Police Station for some of the material used here

N.B. This information should not be relied on for accuracy and is presented here without the responsibility of jml Property Service and the website it is being displayed at. ©jml property Services 10-09

See also: Make sure your car is safe and secure when it is at home over Christmas

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