Here, Secured by Design discusses how to make sure your self-build is secure.
Review your home security
The best way to conduct a review of your own home security is to use the ‘onion peeling principle’, starting with the boundaries and working inwards towards the centre.
Criminals often use a vehicle during the commission of crime, especially in rural areas. They want to load up their stolen property and make good their escape as soon as possible. If they can’t get close to the target they will more than likely move on to somewhere easier. They also wish to avoid stopping at the side of the road where they and their vehicle can be seen and possibly identified.
Lower fences at the front of a property are better than high fences as they allow for natural vision over and do not provide cover for someone hiding.
At the rear and sides of a property, taller fencing is recommended to prevent easy access. A minimum height of 1.8m is advised.
Consider someone climbing over a fence or gate and try to make it difficult for them to do so by adding light trellis, thorny plants or a suitable anti-climb topping.
Check your boundary fences are in good condition. Planting along boundaries and fence lines acts as a powerful natural barrier to someone getting in.
Gravel driveways and paths are ideal at preventing a silent approach. Ensure gates are locked to prevent access to the rear or sides of the property.
CCTV can alert you to someone getting inside your boundary if it is monitored, e.g. by being linked to a smartphone. Smart doorbells, like Ring, alert you to callers to your property. A number of Secured by Design member companies supply the most recent technological innovations in this area.
Cut vegetation back every spring so it does not obscure someone from view or interfere with lighting or CCTV.
Automatic lights can detect movement and deter intruders. Thieves do not like to be seen. A security light being activated is also sign that there may be an intruder on the premises. Consider dusk-to-dawn lighting as an option too.
Fit passive infrared lights lighting to illuminate outbuildings, courtyards and houses if someone approaches.
Landowners and householders too often pay less attention to garages, sheds and other outbuildings where they often store expensive equipment, however, these are vulnerable as they are not very secure and also contain tools with which the burglar can use to assist them to gain entry into a home.
You should ensure that all external outbuilding doors are of solid construction with suitable locks or a close shackle padlock and bar fitted to it – Standard LPS 1654 :2014 – Sold Secure. Consider fitting non-returnable screws or coach bolts to the hinges.
Use laminated glass for the windows and fit an internal screen or blind to hide the contents from anyone outside. Locks should be fitted to all windows.
Garage doors are vulnerable and you can make them more secure by installing additional security, such as padlocks, to provide multiple locking points or using floor-mounted locking T-bars. Do not forget that ladders and tools left outside can be used to assist burglars to break into your home. Ensure they are secured within a garage or shed.
Fit a good intruder alarm system installed by a reputable dealer. Signage is an effective deterrent if used with an active alarm system.
Consider extending your burglar alarm to include your garage or outbuildings if it doesn’t already.
Always remember to use the locks correctly- double-lock PVC-U and multi-point locking doors (lift handle and turn and remove key).
If your door has a postbox, a letterplate fitted to the rear of the door will prevent someone reaching in and opening the door or fishing for any items close by. Consider any cat flaps also and position keys and valuables away from the opening in the door.
Patio doors are vulnerable to forced entry. If you are replacing your door, always fit a security accredited product to standard PAS24:2016. These are tested to British Standards and are approved by the insurance industry.
Sash stops prevent someone opening the sash window wide enough to climb through. Key operated locks are recommended for all other window types and any ground floor or accessible windows (unless being used as a means of escape).
Remember, window locks are only effective if used, so check that you have locked them before you leave your home or go to bed.
Consider additional security for any windows that could be easily reached by someone climbing from below, but always remember to give yourself a means of escape – ensure that you can get out of your home quickly in the event of a fire.
If you are replacing your windows always consider a security-accredited product to standard PAS 24:2016 as these windows are tested to British Standards and are insurance approved.
Property marking makes it easier for the Police to trace and recover stolen articles and prosecute offenders. Use a Secured by Design police-approved forensic marking system. Register your valuables free of charge using one of the accredited suitable property databases. Take photographs and keep documents, such as receipts, related to your property, so you can prove ownership.
A home safe is designed to hold small valuables such as passports, credit cards, identification documents and jewellery. Home safes are insurance rated according to the type and value of the items designed to be placed inside them so check with your insurance company first to ensure you are adequately covered. Some safes are also approved as fire rated and are ideal for storing valuable documents or computer data inside.
Remember to adequately secure your safe by bolting it to a wall or floor, otherwise it can be simply carried away. Position the safe carefully so it cannot be easily discovered.