5 Piece Kit (Second Generation) with Outdoor Siren
Although burglary rates have fallen steadily over the past decade, becoming victim is traumatic, disruptive and also generally expensive to rectify.
The good news is that there's a range of ways to make your home safer, by considering each possible entry point to your home, such as doors and windows, to see how they could be improved.
As well as opportunistic burglaries, some burglars scope out a property beforehand, sometimes working with other criminals.
It's therefore important to think about measures to ensure your home looks occupied at all times, that there aren't any clear places where a potential burglar could hide to assess the house.
Also, don't make it obvious that you are away on holiday. Consider using lights on timers or getting a friend or neighbour to occasionally pop around to check on your home. Also, avoid mentioning about going away on any public-facing social media accounts as you never know who is browsing your profile.
In addition, ask yourself:
We've surveyed ex-burglars and spoken to security experts to discover exactly what really puts them off, including everything from dogs to different alarm brands.
Burglars look for the weakness in your security, and this starts with the front of your house. A potential burglar will look for signs that you aren’t security conscious: doors with a single cylinder or Yale lock, or a lack of window locks.
They also look out for tell-tale mistakes, such as keys left in a back door or window locks with the keys still inside.
A burglar will look for tools, such as ladders, that have been left lying around. They will also check if sheds or outbuildings are properly secured.
The ex-burglars we surveyed told us that they were most likely to target detached houses. According to our interviewees, this is likely to be due to ease of access.
Terraced houses are trickier. There are potentially more people about, plus it's hard to make a quick escape out the back if the burglar has to navigate lots of fences.
They'll also consider whether or not their access route is overlooked. One told us that they would look for high hedges and anything else that would protect them from a neighbour’s line of sight.
Once a burglar has chosen a property to target, they will often scope it out. More professional burglars will do this for two or three days, according to the ex-burglars we spoke to.
This could mean going through your rubbish for a name on your mail, and then searching online to find a landline phone number and calling to see whether you're in. They might also now check your social media or online presence.
Opportunists, on the other hand, can visit a promising neighbourhood and break in the same day. One told us: 'You can just knock, then pretend you're from an energy company if someone is there.'
In our survey, we asked what puts burglars off. The top five things were:
• 71% having a burglar alarm system
• 71% having a dog in the home
• 52% people in the property
• 46% CCTV
• 21% outdoor/sensor lights
There are various ways to protect your home. Here are our top tips, some of which cost little or nothing:
If you have a burglar alarm system, make sure the external sounder or 'bell box’ is clearly visible on your property to let potential burglars know you have an alarm.
Get advice on which type of alarm to buy in How to buy the best burglar alarm guide. Or see fully tested 'bells-only' and smart security alarms in our reviews.
If you can't afford to get a full alarm system fitted, you can also get fake burglar alarm boxes, which cost around £15 to £20, instead.
When fitting a lock to a window or door, use the strongest screws you can, not necessarily the ones supplied, and make sure they are all to British Standard BS7950.
Retrofitting UPVC and PVCU doors or windows with locks could weaken them or invalidate warranties. Sufficient locks fitted at the time of construction are safer.
If you want to change the locks on your current doors, you can find a recommended by using our Which? Trusted Traders service. Any trader who displays our logo has been through our rigorous checks.
In addition, follow the below advice:
Outdoor lights, either ones that you switch on manually or those that are set off by movement, are a good way to ensure a burglar is more visible, which will help to put them off. Generally, a single light can cost anything between £8 and £100. But take care to direct these downwards so as not to annoy neighbours, and make sure they won't shine into drivers' eyes if your home is near a road.
For indoor lighting, the key thing is to make sure that a burglar thinks people are in the house, even when they're not. Timers that can turn lights on and off around the home, as well as TVs and/or radios, cost as little as £5. Just make sure these are in sync around your home, such as turning the light off five minutes after the TV goes off.
We've tested a huge range of wireless security cameras, including models for both the outside to protect an driveway or back entrance, and indoor cameras to alert you if some does get inside.
Another product to consider is a smart doorbell, as they can act as a digital guard for your front door, checking for suspicious characters while also alerting you to legitimate visitors. See fully tested models in our .
As well as all the above security measures, consider installing a and carbon monoxide monitor, too, to protect yourself from other hazards. You can buy these on their own, or as part of a package with some burglar alarms.
It's also worth remembering that while you want to make your home as secure as possible, you need to make sure this won't stop you from being able to escape – or be rescued – in an emergency such as a fire.
Identity theft is a booming business, so keep all your personal information out of sight.
Don't leave letters or bills with lots of personal information just lying about. And keep important documents, such as passports, hidden away as much as possible.
As well as information inside your home, also think about your online presence, including social media accounts. Don't make it easy for criminals to steal your data.
Most insurers will insist on a minimum level of security before they will offer you insurance, such as deadlocks on some or all external doors. These locks will usually need to be five-lever mortise locks and have to meet a minimum standard - usually BS3621.
You will probably find that your insurer expects you to have locks on all your accessible windows as well, although some insurers don't make this a requirement. So putting locks on all your basement and ground-floor windows, plus any that may be accessible by climbing a drainpipe or wall, will increase the number of companies likely to cover you.