- Words: Ed Hill Images: Arthur Mazi, Matt-Jones & Eduard Militaru

For most of us, the arrival of August signifies the return of the much-anticipate­d holiday season. The long-awaited easing of restrictio­ns, combined with the negative impact of the global pandemic, means that this year’s holiday season is more anticipate­d than ever. However, before you clamour for the tanning oil, be aware that August is also peak season for domestic burglaries.

The nationwide lockdown over the last few years has dealt a significan­t blow to burglars’ business model; one study claims that there was a 20% drop in the amount of home intrusions in comparison to crime figures from 2019. With the vaccine rollout gathering momentum and lockdown restrictio­ns easing, it’s predicted that the burglars are keen to recoup some of their losses.

Even though there are different types of burglars, from the petty criminal to the organised crime syndicate, all burglars prey on the complacenc­y of their victims.

The more experience­d and savvy burglars will typically target the more affluent neighbourh­oods of Chelsea, Knightsbri­dge, and Kensington as these areas have the potential to offer the greatest loot. Therefore, the security of your home should always be at the forefront of your mind, especially before leaving it unoccupied for extended periods.

The last thing you want is to be on vacation, only to receive a call from your neighbour telling you that your house has been broken into. Or to come home after a long day and find that your property has been ransacked. Prevention is always better than cure and our Seven Steps to Home Protection will

go a long way in safeguardi­ng your home against burglaries, so you can rest easy and enjoy your time away.

Having a permanent or regular physical presence at your property is undoubtedl­y one of the best deterrents against burglary. However, this may not be feasible, so you may wish to hire a full-time Residentia­l Security Team to remain permanentl­y on-site. The team can conduct regular security sweeps, maintain a watchful eye over the property, and provide a sense of security for residents.

What can you do to keep your home safe?

Walk around the outside of your home and check out its weaknesses. Before reviewing your home security, you should survey your property with the eyes and mindset of a burglar. If you observe that a door or window could be forced open, a thief will also be able to come to the same conclusion.

Whilst checking for vulnerable spots, take note of any expensive electronic­s, art, or furniture that is easily visible through the windows. There’s no need to completely readjust the layout of your home to keep expensive valuables out of sight. It’s easy to make a few adjustment­s to minimise any temptation.

Keep outer fences, gates, and garage doors locked.

It may sound obvious, but carelessne­ss is the burglars’ best friend. As a minimum, invest in a quality padlock for each outside entrance and keep them locked at all times. It may be an inconvenie­nce to keep locking and unlocking, but it all adds to the protection of your home. Also, never leave any doors open if you aren’t present or able to keep an eye on it. A burglar can be inside your home via an unattended door in a matter of seconds.

Keep all doors and windows closed and locked at all times. Another obvious one, but an open window or door is an invitation for burglars to easily enter your home. Always keep them shut and securely locked, whether you’re home or not. Don’t underestim­ate strong window locks, and update them if necessary. Thieves know how to spot weak locks that could be easily forced open. Ensure that your exterior doors have deadbolt locks; a fully tested security door is a worthy investment. Sliding doors should have vertical bolts and a sturdy rod in the track to prevent doors being forced open or doors being lifted off the track. Never, ever leave your home without locking the front door, no matter how small your trip. Before leaving the house, always take that extra few seconds to ensure that everything is locked up.

Install motion sensor lighting around your home. Add additional lighting with motion detectors at entrances and especially dark corners of your home to surprise and expose a potential intruder before he can even reach your doors or windows. When used correctly, security lighting is an extremely effective deterrent and should cover the full external perimeter of your home.

Get to know your neighbours. Your neighbours can be one of your best assets in

home crime prevention because they can offer extra eyes and an outside perspectiv­e. An assertive and tight-knit community can have a huge impact on crime reduction because neighbours are more likely to look out for each other and can easily spot a stranger. In addition, if their work or school schedule differs from yours, they might be around during the day when you’re away and can respond to any suspicious activity that may occur in your absence.

Consider buying a home security system. There are numerous features with most modern security systems. Some particular­ly valuable features are outdoor motion detectors, sensors at exterior doors, windows, security cameras, and an outdoor audible alarm to alert other neighbours of an intrusion. Select the features that best fit your needs and be sure to go with a well-known, reputable company. Once it’s installed, familiaris­e yourself with it and make it a regular habit to use it.

It may seem inconvenie­nt to have to arm the security system every time you leave your home, but many burglars are aware that this responsibi­lity is often neglected. To reduce false alarms, inform everyone with access to your property about the security system and ensure that they know how to use it. Regular false alarms will annoy your neighbours and may result in expensive fines. Moreover, you may get the boy-whocried-wolf effect where your neighbours eventually learn to ignore your alarm every time it goes off.

Reinforce windows with safety glass or metal bars. This may seem like an extreme step, but burglars will often break a small window to gain entry. You can add an additional layer to your home security by installing safety glass or metal bars. There are plenty of decorative options for metal grilles that can make the adjustment both practical and aesthetica­lly-pleasing. If this is unfeasible, you can purchase a film in most DIY stores to stick over the glass to make it harder to break. Fit window locks with keys to all downstairs windows and those upstairs that are easy to reach. Home security and DIY shops sell inexpensiv­e, keyoperate­d locks to fit most kinds of windows.

The summer months are unfortunat­ely when burglaries and home invasions spike, but there are steps you can take to protect your home even while you’re away on vacation. Don’t let your excitement and relaxation override your common sense by leaving your home vulnerable and insecure.

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