Make sure burglars aren’t invited on your summer holidays
WHEN you’re preparing for a holiday, it’s easy to concentrate your attention on packing, finding passports and making arrangements to get to the airport. But you should also make sure that your most important asset, your home, is well protected. Here are some tips:
Check your house from the outside in.
Make sure that you empty your garden of any ladders, tools or other objects that could be used to break into your property. If you have external storage such as sheds, outhouses and garages, they should be secured with a suitably approved lock. A good source of advice is independent security product testing house Sold Secure: www.soldsecure. com.
Make sure that all valuables such as laptops, jewellery and keepsakes are stored away out of sight, as leaving valuables on show gives potential burglars even greater incentive to break in.
Don’t forget to cancel regular deliveries of milk and newspapers, as nothing exposes an empty house more than piles of milk bottles and mail stacking up in a porch. Consider setting up a Keepsafe account with Royal Mail, which will hold your mail for up to 66 days and deliver it the day after you return.
For more information visit www.royalmail.com/personal/ receiving-mail/keepsafe.
It might sound obvious, but remember to lock all doors and windows before you leave, and set your alarm.
Leave a spare key with a trusted friend or relative so that they can pop in a couple of times a week to check the property and remove a build up of post from the front door. It’s worth investing in a patented key system, which carry legal protection preventing copies of keys being made without proof of ownership.
It can be tempting to shout about travelling on social networking sites, checking in at the Coliseum or posting pictures from the Grand Canyon, but remember that there could be hundreds of strangers learning that your house will be empty for two weeks.
Be careful what you say on voicemails and answering machines too, callers don’t need to know that you’re away, just say that you can’t come to the phone at that moment.
Leave curtains open as you normally would when you’re at home.
Leaving them uncharacteristically closed will draw more attention to your property.
You can also invest in light timers that give the impression that there is someone in at night.
Place them in rooms at the front and back of the house, and remember not to set them all so they come on/go off at the same time.
You should also unplug your televisions, toasters, ovens and computers to protect them from power surges.
If you live alone, contact your local police on the nonemergency number – 101 – to let them know that your house will be unoccupied for a while.
You can also inform trusted neighbours and ask them to keep watch over your property.
It may also be a good idea to have a thorough security check carried out by an MLA licensed locksmith before you go away.
Security systems are constantly updating and if you’ve lived in a property for a while, your current measures could actually be out of date, and in breach of your home insurance stipulations.
Don’t leave spare house keys, garage keys or car keys so they can be seen anywhere.
Side windows can easily be smashed to reach keys, so consider adding re-enforced glass or adding decorative grilles.
Your local MLA approved locksmith can advise. You may also want to consider getting a safe professionally supplied and installed to store valuable items.
Steffan George is development director for the Master Locksmiths Association