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October 25

by Samantha Altman
Times are changing – Is your property security up to scratch?

We all know the age old saying ‘safe as houses’, but is your property security really as safe as you think?

The cover of darkness is a great incentive for thieves looking for a quick burglary win over unsuspecting homeowners, by making light of inadequate property security. With daylight saving time coming to an end it is important to ensure that your property security remains safe as the long winter nights close in.

Recent research from the Co-op Insurance has found that burglary claims increase by 34 per cent when the clocks go back and so it is important to understand what you can do, as a landlord or tenant, to mitigate the risk to the property.

How does seasonality influence crime rates?

While the summer months are also a key time for property break-ins due to properties often being left unoccupied for extended periods, these burglaries are far more opportunistic, often as a result of open windows and doors. The lack of sunlight during colder winter months lends itself to larger pre-planned attempts on a property that are masked by darkness and harder to spot.

What can you do to keep your property safe this winter?

No one wants to fall victim to a burglary, however there are certain steps you can take to deter burglars from attempting to break into your property in the first place by taking a closer look at your property security.

  • Are you in?

During the dark winter months it is much easier for burglars to assess whether someone is in the property or not. Many people may turn off lights when leaving the property to save on their electricity bills but they could unwittingly be letting burglars know that it is an open house!

One of the best ways to counter this issue is to set up self timed lights in the property to make it look like people are in, even when you are out. Setting these to different time patterns and in different rooms, where they are visible from the outside of the property, give the impression that someone is home.

This can also be beneficial when going away for the weekend or during the festive period.

  • Outdoor property security lights

In addition to indoor lighting, it is a good idea to install outdoor security lights around your property that will help to deter burglars from attempting a break in. On winter mornings or during the evenings, being illuminated for the street to see acts as a further deterrent.

Co-op Insurance report that when speaking to a number of reformed burglars many highlight motion-activated security lights as the most likely security precaution to deter them from a property, with 26 per cent avoiding these homes altogether.

  • Locks doors and windows

It may seem obvious but it is important to make sure that doors and windows are always locked when leaving the property as these act as easy routes into your property no matter the season.

  • Property security systems and alarms

You may also consider fitting a home security system and alarm in your property that can act as a further deterrent.

This may seem like an added expense but is well worth the investment to protect your property effectively. However, if you are a landlord considering installing a home security system or alarm in your property, remember that it is just as important to educate your tenants on the importance of using the system and ensure that you maintain it effectively.

  • Secure sheds and garages

Don’t forget to secure any outbuildings, sheds and garages as the contents of these can act as aids to burglars if they are easily accessible. Expensive equipment can also be a target in itself, so make sure that you lock away any tools and valuables stored in sheds, garages and outbuildings.

  • Festivities

With Christmas not far away the ‘rewards’ for burglars can be higher than at other time of year. When leaving for the day, or if going away on holiday, it is important to put in place the above security features.

Packages left outside and mail poking out of the letterbox are a good indication that no one is currently in the property and make an empty property easy to identify. Ensure that such signs that nobody is home are taken care of at regular intervals, or get someone to visit the property. For tenants, it may be useful to advise landlords that you will be going away as this provides a good opportunity for landlords to carry out any checks and maintenance on the property, while also making sure it appears lived in.

If you are going away it is also a good idea to avoid advertising the fact on social media as it is easily accessible information that can be exploited by premeditated burglaries.

For more information on residential burglary advice and property security, visit The Metropolitan Police website which provides further tips on how to protect your valuables, safeguard your building and secure the outside of your property.

You can also check out this handy mydeposits infographic to help you visualise the security steps you can take to improve your property security.

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