Before you spend any time considering the security of your home and what burglar alarm system to install or whether to do-it-yourself or employ a specialist contractor, there are many improvements you can make to your home security using simple and practical home security and anti-burglar devices.
First, think like a burglar. Take a critical look at your home from the outside. From the street, from the back and from your neighbours gardens, both sides.
The back garden is the route most often used by intruders to access your home. And with the modern ninja-type burglars even a 2 metre high solid wood or brick wall is no deterrent.
Top the wall or fence with a 300mm high trellis, weak enough to break under the weight of a person trying to climb over it. The intruder will either injure himself or at least make enough noise to attract attention.
For added security add a few strands of barbed wire camouflaged by the horizontal stringers of the trellis.
Front garden fences should be no higher than one meter and the same for any trees, shrubs and garden ornaments. This will make sure that anybody in the front garden can be seen from the house and from the street.
And if you are landscaping, consider gravel path around the house instead of paviors. Small stones are cheaper than paving slabs and have you ever tried to walk silently on a gravel path?
Solid wooden gates may offer some privacy but they are the easiest to climb over. Make the outside surface smooth without any crevices that can be used as a foothold.
Ornamental iron gates are easy to climb over by the very nature of the design, so consider a transparent panel on the outside to stop the intruder from using the ironwork as a foothold.
Two padlocks are better than one. One at the top and one at the bottom and if the gate is not used very often a heavy chain and padlock can be used.
And if the burglar is really intent then make it difficult for him to lift the gate off the hinges. Weld a metal piece above the hinge pins so the gates cannot be removed.
Garden sheds need to be made burglar proof: Not only because of the value of the equipment inside but more to stop the thief from using the ladders, hammers and crow-bars stored there to break in to the main house.
Doors and windows need to be secure. Fit the biggest hasp-hinge-staple that the door and window frames can support.
If the garden shed is not that substantial and could easily be broken into then consider not storing in there garden tools like spades and shears as they provide perfect house-breaking-into tools. Or, maybe chain them altogether and then secure the chain to a very heavy object. A work bench for example.
Garages are also used to store garden implements, DIY power tools and the like. Perfect house-breaking-into tools that an opportunistic thief could use.
Normal up-and-over garage doors are usually secured by a simple lightweight centre lock. Not good, with little noise easily opened. Secure the door with a mortice type lock designed specifically for up-and-over doors.
Side personal doors need to be secured the same way the back door is secured, especially if there is an internal door into the house from the garage.
Keeping the front garden tidy with trimmed hedges and shrubs will deter the occasional intruder as there are no places to hide.
Make the front of the house clearly visible from the road so that any person entering the property can be seen.
Keep cars, bicycles and toys secure inside the garage.
Always close and lock the garage door.
The rear garden is the preferred entry route for professional intruders as it affords more privacy.
Keep it tidy, eliminate the hiding places, put gardening equipment away after use.
Garden ornaments suitable for breaking glass or window frames need to be cemented in place or given away. Do you really need all those gnomes?
The back garden is the most secluded part of most homes giving home owners privacy but also allowing intruders easy access to the back door without being seen by the neighbours. Therefore the back door needs to be especially strong and secure.
Fit a 5-lever 2 bolt sash lock at waist height and locking bolts at the top and at the bottom fitted to the strongest part of the door.
Fit hinge bolts to increase the strength of the hinge side of the door
Any glass panels in the back door need to be unbreakable glass and fitted to the door from the inside so the window glass beading or putty cannot be removed.
If unbreakable glass is not available then install ‘burglar bars’, a metal grill, across the window on the inside.
Sliding Patio Doors
Patio doors may look good and for sure when fully open allows the summer weather into the house, but they are very easy to break into.
Some sliding patio doors can even be lifted off their track.
In this case close the gap between top of door and inside the top track by inserting short sections of wood in the track so when in the closed position the doors cannot be lifted.
Or anti-theft devices can be purchased – not to stop the door from being stolen, but to stop burglars from entering the home.
Modern patio doors are for sure a lot more secure but can still be supplemented by added security measures.
These usually require a little drilling into the door frame and then into the sliding window frame. Fit one in the bottom frame midway along the sliding window and one on the side frame about waist high. Can be tricky to install especially with the sleek, narrow frames available today.
It can be difficult to install additional security devices to uPVC sliding patio doors because of the complicated designs needed to strengthen them. So when buying patio doors pay particular attention to the security methods incorporated into the design.
If nothing else then fit removable lengths of 30mm by 30mm hard wood sections into the bottom track to stop the sliding door from, well, sliding.
Hinged Patio Doors
Hinged patio doors are usually two doors wide, hinged on the outside edge, swinging outwards and locked in place in the middle. By the very design they are not very strong and can easily be opened with brute force and a crowbar.
Secure each door with locking bolts at the top and at the bottom.
And as the doors swing outwards fit hinge bolts top and bottom to make it difficult to remove the doors by removing the hinge pins
Patio door glass panels
Replace ordinary glass with laminated glass. Laminated glass is like car windscreens, it splinters but is very difficult to penetrate.
The most used door so needs to be easy to open yet impossible to open without the right keys.
The door itself needs to be made of solid wood 45 mm thick and fixed to the door frame with 3 strong 100mm long hinges.
The door frame needs to be solid wood and screwed securely to the walls every 600mm
A normal rim latch is just not strong enough.
A 5-lever mortice deadlock needs to be fitted as well. Fit the second lock 600mm above or below the rim latch.
Fit a spy hole so that you can see who is at the door before opening it
Also fit a door chain. They are not that strong but will allow you to open the door a few centimetres to talk to a visitor while still obstructing access to unwanted visitors.
A letter box opening in the door allows limited access to a thief:
- Don’t leave a spare key hanging on the inside.
- Don’t fit security devices that can be opened by a double-jointed long-armed villain.
- Fit a wire mail basket over the opening (on the inside) but remove the bottom so any object pushed through the letter box will fall to the floor out of reach of the thief
While keeping all doors and windows secure from intruders there must be one recognised fire exit route in case of fire or other calamity.
Make sure all family members know the safe way out and do not secure any deadbolts when the home is occupied
Any comments or additional suggestions?