How to protect your home

Doors and alarms

Change your locks when you move into a new residence, and it is also a good idea to change them if you have just been recently divorced, ended a relationship or evicted a flatmate who shared expenses – your ex-partner could have had a copy made.

Change your alarm security codes when changing locks – and for the same reason. If renting a residence, don’t keep the owner’s codes – change them; while you are the legal occupant your landlord is not entitled to enter at will.

Fit deadlocks or bolts to all exterior doors and enhance the security of sliding doors by dropping a broomstick or dowel, cut to length, into the channel in which it slides.

If you live in a large residence with the bedrooms far removed from the others (when hearing a window break might not be easy), consider fitting a security door separating the bedroom/bathroom area from the rest of the residence.


A nail or purpose-made screw-in bar fitted to a sash window makes it far more secure but do not put too much faith in film applied to window panes being a deterrent. Security glass is one thing, but film that is applied to reduce the sun’s glare – at which it is very good – is not an effective deterrent. It can actually make it easier for a burglar since the sound of shattering glass is reduced because the film essentially keeps it together, allowing the intruder to pull it out of the frame if necessary.

Appearances count

One trick to enhancing security, particularly when you are away on holiday, is making your residence look occupied. How?

  • Inform your security company and/or your neighbours that you will be away and where and how you can be contacted.
  • Apart from cancelling newspaper deliveries for the duration, ask a neighbour to collect your mail for you – a bulging letterbox is a giveaway.
  • If in a house and you’ll be away for a long time, arrange for a garden service to at least tidy up your verge and, if your garden is visible from the road, that as well.
  • Ask your neighbour to put one of their bags outside your residence on refuse collection days.
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General tips

  • Beware of items that a burglar could use to gain entry. For instance, if painting the exterior of your home, ensure ladders are put away at the end of every day. A tree like this will assist an intruder making into his into the courtyard
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  • Avoid planting bushes and trees near door, windows, balconies and courtyard walls; if any are already there, keep them well trimmed. If you feel you must plant in these areas, try planting what will deter intruders. A thorny rose works well.
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  • If you have a contract with a security company, make sure their notices are prominently displayed – also in areas where a burglar might try to gain entry – like the back of your home.
  • If you need to leave a key for a friend or family member to enter your residence while you are out, don’t hide outside – you may be seen stashing it. Rather have it collected from a trustworthy neighbour
  • Lower the volume of your telephone’s ring so it can’t be heard outside your house. (An unanswered phone tells a burglar watching your house that no one’s home.)
  • If you are a single woman living on your own – or even a couple of women in the same home, if you are going to have a message on your phone, have a male friend – who sounds as though he can crush walnuts with his eyelids – record the message for you.
  • A security gate is an essential today; installed (with additional metalwork) as shown allows the owner to use a mirror to see down the side of the residence while still staying safe behind the bars.
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  • To protect your home or flat, learn to think like an intruder, and then react accordingly.
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