So far this year, the ACT and Queanbeyan region have already seen more than 1,000 burglaries take place, so there’s never been a better time to protect your home and its contents. All it takes is a few simple measures that can make a drastic difference to your home’s security and stop opportunistic thieves in their tracks.
Here’s our seven-step guide to help keep your home safe and secure all year round.
With spring around the corner, your windows are finally going to get some use again so there’s now’s the time to make sure you have your window security sorted. Take the time to look at all windows closely, ensuring they are secure and sitting on their tracks, and that frames aren’t damaged. Check all fly screens for rust, tears or cracks and if they’re looking a bit worse for wear, replace them before the warmer weather arrives. Open windows, especially those visible from the street and passing foot traffic can make your home a target for burglars, so always close your windows when you leave the home and make sure they have fitted locks. Key-operated cylinder locks are a secure and reliable option, especially for windows on a ground floor.
Apart from windows, the most popular areas for burglars to gain access to your home is through your doors – front, rear, side, as well as the garage. It’s important that you frequently check your doors and their locks to ensure they are working, looking out for broken or loose parts and hinges, as they can easily become worn, rusty and rotten over time – especially when they’re exposed to the elements. Check that all of your external doors are sturdy and solid, and ideally, they should all have quality deadlocks installed. Even if your locks are in good working condition, burglars know ways to break into old models so compare your locks with modern options to make sure yours are up to scratch. A camera intercom next to your front door plus wide-angle peepholes in all external facing doors are other great ways to ramp up your home security measures.
If you’re serious about protecting your home when you’re not in it, you might want to consider installing an alarm system. If you’ve already got one, then it’s important that you use it. It’s well known that many people don’t set their alarm, thinking that having one is a deterrent alone, but thieves are well aware of this trend. Make a habit of setting your alarm when you leave the house, even if you’re just going to the shop, but especially when going on holiday. Regardless of how long your holiday is, let your security company know your departure and return dates. If you're leaving the state or the country, give your security company the contact details of a friend or relative in case they can’t contact you or if they need access to your home. Having an alarm can also help to reduce your home insurance premium.
While burglaries can occur during the day, most thieves operate at night so motion sensor lighting can add another layer of security to your home, plus act as an effective deterrent. Motion sensor lights should be installed above external doors, near side gates and main thoroughfares where thieves are likely to approach. An alternative to motion sensor lighting can be to simply leave an outside light on when night falls, indicating to potential thieves that someone is home.
Whether you’re accessing your garden shed daily, weekly or monthly, it’s important that it is secured properly, especially if you use it to store valuable tools and household items. The garden shed is often an easy target for thieves so make security a priority before you possibly fall victim. Depending on your security needs, consider a heavy duty padlock, combination lock, sliding pad bolt, deadlock and even an alarm or security camera. Keeping your shed locked and secured also prevents thieves from using your own tools and ladders to gain entry into your home.
Whether you’re going away for a night, a week or a month, it’s important to take your home security seriously, but it’s equally important to not make it obvious that you aren’t there. Empty homes are the biggest target for thieves. Some people like to leave a light on when they’re not at home, but this really is a personal preference. Plus, make note that thieves are often aware of the one-light trend. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your home dark for the entirety of your trip, consider setting room lamps on a timer, or ask a friend or relative to come by and turn some lights on regularly. Before heading off on holidays, put your mail and newspaper delivery on hold and request that your local post office holds onto it until you return. If you have any other regular deliveries, especially food items, pause or redirect them, or ask a neighbour to pick them up for you. Also, remember that if you usually leave a spare key hidden under a pot plant, rock or mat, you should bring it inside before you go away. Ideally, you should never leave a spare key outside as thieves know all of the common hiding spots.
While it might seem unlikely that someone is going to break into your home through the cat or dog door, it’s actually more common than you think. Older style pet doors are usually a target for burglars, especially those that are bigger than the standard size – often used for larger dogs. Today, many manufacturers are creating pet doors with security in mind offering built-in features such as combination lock systems and locking covers. There are also electronic models on the market that connect to your pet’s microchip or collar and automatically open and close when they approach.