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Increase In Crime

2nd August 2020

Wouldn’t you know it, we’ve made it to August already. Usually at this time of year I’d be trying to focus your minds (not in a Paul McKenna way) on keeping your house secure whilst you enjoy your summer holiday. However, as we all know, these are not usual times, and many of us will be foregoing a 2020 holiday in favour of a staycation. And yes, a staycation does mean staying at home, and does not simply mean a holiday in the UK. This is the hill on which I will die – a holiday in the UK is still a holiday and NOT a staycation. 

Anyway, I got diverted there by another of my minor annoyances, I do apologise.  Despite the reduction in holidays, we are still expecting thefts from houses to increase in the coming months as the lockdown ends and more people head back to work. Houses that were previously occupied all day will become empty during the daytime and although we’ve seen massively reduced burglary figures during the lockdown, it’s likely these will now start increasing as burglars make up for lost time. Therefore, as a little reminder, I’ve put together a few more tips to keep your house as safe as possible over the summer and autumn. 

First things first, a word about insurance. Most of my advice is geared towards stopping any burglary taking place, therefore negating the subsequent need to claim on any policies. But unfortunately, whatever we do, we can never fully eliminate the possibility of a break in. And should this happen, it’s important to ensure you do not add a financial loss to your emotional loss. Check you have the right policy for your needs, covering your home and all your contents. Do not underestimate the value of the contents of your house. A recent study showed that the average UK household owns £35,000 worth of items, yet these are often undervalued when taking out contents insurance. 

Remember that the policy may also dictate what sort of locks or alarm system you have on your doors, and you may be required to list any specialist items such as antiques, bikes or jewellery. Be sure these are listed in full as if not, there may be an issue in claiming in the event of any loss. You may be tempted to forego insurance, as you’ve never claimed it, but given the average policy costs around £160 a year, or just over £13 a month, this doesn’t seem a lot when it could literally save you tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds (in the case of the house being destroyed)

As well as insurance, no house should be without properly fitted locks, and this includes all garages, sheds or other outbuildings. Any old lock may not be enough though. Experts at the Master Locksmith Association (MLA) have highlighted the problem of people not fitting an appropriate lock to their front door. Cheap replicas have flooded the markets, and these are far less likely to withstand any attempt at a break-in. The recommendation is to go for a named lock such as Yale or Chubb which have a well-earned reputation for sturdiness. Also look for compliance with standards such as PAS 24, Secure by Design, ADQ, and the recognisable BSI Kitemark. If living in a block of flats or other shared accommodation, all residents should make it a policy that the main door is kept locked as well as the door to their own property. Households should make use of window locks as well as securing garages and sheds, especially now there is a greater chance these will be left unattended as lockdown eases.

An easy, no-cost thing to do is to keep all valuables out of sight. This goes for anything of high value, as well as sets of car or house keys. I’m always a little bit embarrassed to mention this tip as it seems so simple, but many is the time that a burglar just reaches through an open window or letterbox and hooks keys that have been left on a hall table, giving them access to the whole house, or the car on the drive. A further option to make things secure is to purchase a key box to keep all keys safely out of the way – some of the newer ones can also help block signals used for car keys, preventing this new scourge of high tech theft. 

Speaking of technology, there are a few more ways this can be used to your advantage. Burglar alarms and security cameras are now available at much lower prices than in the past due to the advances in the economics of technology, and a decent set of motion-activated cameras can be had for little more than a hundred pounds now. Security systems should be regularly tested, as although having them on display is a deterrent, it’s far preferable to have working models, and the lockdown break may have resulted in a few of them going awry.

Smart security is big business these days – smart doorbells allow you to see who is at the door before answering, and you can even answer from your phone if you are away from home, whilst smart locks allow householders to lock and unlock their doors remotely if needed. Smart lightbulbs can be used to create the impression that someone is in the house – these can be activated from a phone, but be sure to vary the routine, as burglars will soon notice the predictability of a light going on and off at the same time each day.

Finally, don’t focus all your attention on your main property. A prime target for thieves at this time of the year is garden furniture, and also sheds or garages. Burglars can use shrubbery and trees in the garden to hide out until they make their move. To prevent this, cut back any overgrown shrubs, and prune any trees which provide large shaded areas. Consider the plants you do grow – the addition of thorny bushes around the perimeter of your garden will put off many casual burglars, as will adding spikes to the top of fences or gates. Ensure all ladders are locked away as these can give burglars easy access to the upper level of your house. 

We’re all looking forward to getting out and about a bit more as lockdown hopefully eases, and even, dare I say, being back in the office before the novelty of that wears off. But whilst you’re out, do make sure that you’ve taken all the precautions you can to make your property safe, and to prevent a very unwelcome homecoming. For any assistance at all with any locksmith Rotherham or security-related matters, please call me on 07990573857

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