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Insight Security Expertise Sought by the Daily Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph newspaper recently reached out to Insight Security seeking home-security guidance and recommendations to support a valuable article on how to deter burglars from your home. Learn more in our latest blog post.

As regular readers already know, here at Insight Security we are always happy to answer questions and provide free security advice and guidance. The Daily Telegraph recently published an excellent article entitled: How to deter burglars from your home - by an ex-housebreaker. They had some questions about the best way to protect sheds and outbuildings which our expert operations manager was happy to answer.

Protecting Sheds and Outbuildings

The Telegraph article reports how many people fail to secure their sheds and outbuildings as carefully as their homes, which is something we’ve covered in previous blog posts. Our operations manager correctly highlighted how many people will use only cheap, easily breached padlocks on their outbuildings although they are often storing many thousands of pounds worth of valuables, such as mountain bikes, ride-on mowers and garden furniture.

A good “rule of thumb” recommendation is to allocate around 10% of the value of stored items on security. So if it would cost around £5000 to replace items stolen from a shed or outbuilding it makes sense to spend around £500 on security. Improved security precautions might sensibly include motion-activated lighting, high-security hasps, staples and padlocks along with chains, ground anchors and possibly shed door bars and shed anchors.

An important point made by the Telegraph article and our operations manager is the need to prevent valuables from being seen from outside. Making it impossible to see the contents of a shed, garage or outbuilding is a simple but highly effective precaution. Another recommendation is the use of audible deterrents. A gravel drive or pathway can be enough to prompt potential burglars to seek alternative, less-noisy targets. Another valuable option is the installation of simple outbuilding alarms or including outbuildings in the household security alarm system, if there is one.

Another important recommendation made by our operations manager is the need to not only secure the doors and windows of outbuildings and sheds but to also secure valuable items stored inside by chaining them to either immovable or unwieldy contents. Ideally, valuables, such as bikes and mowers, should be securely chained to immovable anchor points such as a ground anchor or shed anchor. But if this isn’t feasible then wrapping a security chain around the valuables and attaching to unwieldy items, like garden tools, makes it much more difficult for thieves to quickly make off with them.

We are very aware that many people don’t have sheds or garages in which they can securely store valuables such as bikes and scooters. Wherever possible it makes sense to keep these items hidden from prying eyes and secure them in place using high quality security chains and padlocks. We know of people whose only available storage location for their bikes is a side passage or small back yard. They sensibly keep their bikes covered, to protect them from the rain and hide them from potential thieves and they also chain them to fence posts or other immovable anchor points.

long shed bar on door
Long Shed Bar Bolstering Shed Door Security


How to Deter Burglars from Your Home

The Daily Telegraph article notes how over a quarter of a million burglaries were reported over 12 months up to June 2023 but in 48% of neighbourhoods no burglaries had been solved in the past three years. These startling statistics make it clear that the best strategy is to prevent these crimes from taking place.

There are some very valuable recommendations in the article, highlighting many important home security considerations derived from experienced burglars. Here are some key points.

Keep Your Valuables Hidden

As mentioned in regard to outbuilding and shed security, if a potential burglar can see there are valuables inside a home it will attract their attention. Obscuring visibility inside sheds and outbuildings is a valuable safeguard but its also important to pay attention to the home and how house-breakers assess what’s available and how secure a property might be. Keeping valuables out of sight, drawing the curtains and pulling the blinds are easy and sensible precautions.

An experienced burglar describes how they will look through letterboxes and test doors to assess whether they are securely locked. The article describes the practice of “letterbox fishing” where a thief uses a pole, pushed through the letterbox, to reach for valuables such as house and car keys that people often leave somewhere near their main door.

And if a burglar finds the front of a property is well-secured they are likely to go round the back where security precautions may be lower and there is less chance of being seen or heard. Important recommendations include the installation of motion triggered security lighting and making certain nothing of value can be seen through the windows. Letterboxes can be made more secure with the installation of a letterbox cage or security guard.

letterbox security guard
Letterbox Security Guard


Another important and often overlooked recommendation made in the article is ensuring calendars can’t be seen from outside. People often have calendars in their kitchens or hallways, where they note their appointments, activities, holidays and days they will be away from home. If a burglar can see these details they know exactly when they can revisit the property without fear of running into the occupants.

Neighbourhood Watch

The telegraph article recommends displaying a neighbourhood watch sticker in the window. We have previously described how neighbourhood watch groups are enormously valuable in boosting home security, providing excellent home security guidance and helping communities to work together to keep one-another safe and secure. If there isn’t a neighbourhood watch group in your area its well worth setting one up.

Follow this link to learn about setting up a Neighbourhood Watch group in your area.

Pay Attention to Locks and Hinges

An important recommendation throughout the Daily Telegraph article is the need to pay attention to locks. Locks on doors, windows and outbuildings should be high quality and well maintained. Most importantly - they should always be locked when the home isn’t occupied and at night. Police forces throughout the UK repeatedly make this recommendation as many burglars gain access to properties via windows and doors that are simply left unlocked.

And another point to consider is not only the locks but the hinges and frames. While good quality, high security locks might be near-impossible to overcome, if the door or window hinges are weak or the frames are in a poor state of repair it might take very little force for a burglar to pry them open.

window security bars
Window Security Bars


Don’t Leave Items Outdoors for Burglars to Use

If you take a look at burglary reports, often published in regional newspapers, you will soon see how opportunist criminals will use whatever they can lay their hands on to gain access to a property. Its not unusual to read how a burglar has broken into a home or garage using a garden spade or climbed to an open upstairs window using a ladder that’s been left in the garden. Wherever possible, tools and other items that a burglar might use should be securely locked away and always out of sight.

Don`t Overlook Perimeter Security

An important point made by our operations manager is keeping prying eyes from seeing into a property by installing high fencing. Many burglars are simply opportunists on the lookout for something worth stealing or a property with security weaknesses. Anti-climb perimeter security is another valuable deterrent that can be enough to prompt would-be house-breakers to move on to another, more easily accessed, target.

perimeter security
Perimeter Security Products


CCTV is a Powerful Deterrent

The experienced burglar consulted by the Daily Telegraph points out that CCTV is “a big turn off” for burglars. He acknowledges how property alarms aren’t as good as they once were in deterring criminals who know people don’t react to alarms like they once did. But simple CCTV cameras, that not only record intruders but also send alerts to people’s mobile phones, are highly effective.

Guard Dogs and Pets Can Attract Burglars

The article highlights how pets can actually attract unwanted attention from burglars. If they see a dog moving around a property they immediately know there are no motion-sensitive security devices in place. Pet flaps can also be a problem as they often offer extremely large openings into a home and weaken the doors in which they are installed. Even what are thought to be fierce guard dogs can often be befriended by offering the right treats.

Pay Attention to Internet Security

The article makes an important point regarding the information that can be gleaned online. Property listings, for example, often provide detailed home interior layouts. And when people share details of their vacations on social media they are telling the world they are not at home, which can be an invitation for criminals.

Another important internet related security consideration is not sharing other aspects of routines, wealth and valuables online. If a burglar learns about someone’s valuable watch collection or the latest designer handbag they’ve recently acquired they immediately know there are items of value inside a property. And if they then learn the occupants are always at work between certain hours they know exactly when to target the property without the risk of anyone being home.

Test Your Own Home Security

A simple recommendation made in the Telegraph article is to ask yourself - How would I break in if I lost my keys? Answering this basic question will often reveal where the weak links are in anyone’s home security.

We’ve previously recommended carrying out your own home security audits. Walking around your home, examining all the doors and windows and taking a good look at your outbuildings and sheds is a good idea. Also, discuss home security with everyone in your home to highlight the need to always lock doors and windows, draw curtains, pull the blinds and keep valuables out of sight. And importantly, never publicise what you have and what you are up to online.

Useful Links

Here are some links to home security products and articles you will find useful.

For more information on Insight Security Expertise Sought by the Daily Telegraph talk to Insight Security

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