Key ideas to stop burglars
PUBLISHED: 14:47 09 March 2015 | UPDATED: 14:57 09 March 2015
With 6,000 homes burgled using householders' keys in the UK last year and criminals now using social media to target properties, head of estate agency at Harrison Murray Su Snaith says it's time to tighten up on home security
Thousands of homes were burgled last year with their own house keys, which were either stolen at an earlier date or found in a hiding place at the property by thieves. Crime figures in a new report by LV Home Insurance suggest more than 6,000 burglaries in the UK in 2014 involved criminals gaining access to the property using keys as opposed to breaking and entering.
Despite the obvious security risks, leaving a key hidden outside the property under a mat or a plant pot is an age-old tradition. However, we would strongly advise homeowners to leave a spare key either with a neighbour or family member or, in the case of them having their property on the market, with their estate agent.
The LV research found that 29 per cent of people admit to leaving a spare key hidden outside the property. The most common places to use are under a plant pot (19 per cent), under a bin (13 per cent), under rock or stone (13 per cent), under doormat (10 per cent) or even beneath a garden gnome or ornament (eight per cent).
Extra measures to protect your home
With spring a way off, we do still have dark mornings and early evenings, but we aren’t suggesting that people live in fear. It is simply about adopting a practical, common-sense approach in assessing safety measures in your existing or new home.
1. Consider installing motion-sensitive lighting fixtures above front doors, porches, garage doors and entrances to back gardens. Fit timers to indoor lights when you are out for the evening or going on holiday.
2. If you are moving into a new property, familiarise yourself with the alarm and key-in a new passcode.
3. Bolt or padlock side and back gates securely.
4. Be letterbox aware. As vehicle theft becomes more sophisticated and often to order, thieves turn to letterboxes to obtain keys. Make sure you put these and other valuables out of easy reach and sight of the front door.
5. Put your mark on valuables with a UV pen – a discreet way to identify your items if they are stolen.
6. Many sheds are used to store bikes, garden equipment and tools. Ensure you have a sturdy padlock on the shed door. The same goes for the garage.
7. Don’t get caught out online. Be careful about what personal information you divulge on social media. Opportunist thieves are turning to sites to target unsuspecting victims, so don’t give too much information away regarding your whereabouts. Never reveal that your property is empty.
8. Be a good neighbour and join the local Neighbourhood Watch group. If you are new to the area, this is also a great way of getting to know your neighbourhood and meeting new people.