Thursday, November 14, 2013

Guest post- Ten Simple Checks To Increase The Security Of Your Home Or Flat!


This post is provided by Matt Carrington.

Home insurance companies care about where you live. They also care about how much effort you put in to securing your home against burglars. Home insurance premium rates vary across the United Kingdom based in part on crime statistics.  The more theft claims reported to home insurance companies in a given post code, the higher the insurance premium is likely to be. Individual homeowners can increase their chances of getting a reduction on their premiums by taking steps to up security levels at their homes or flats.


The Most Burgled Post Codes in the United Kingdom

An annual survey analysing about 3.5 million insurance quotes to determine which UK postcodes are most—and least—likely to make claims for theft in any given year, reportedin 2012 thatsome of the safest postcodes in the UK include:

·         Pembrokeshire’s SA62

·         Swansea’s SA9

·         Cumbria’s LA14

On the other end of the spectrum we find Leeds, specifically the LS13 postcode, which suffered the highest number of break-ins reported to insurance companies in 2012. Parts of London and Bradford follow close behind, though. Here are the top four riskiest places for burglaries, according to recent research:

1.       Leeds, LS13

2.       Bradford, BD12

3.       North Finchley, London, N12

4.       Manchester, Eccles, M30

Residents in these ‘hot-spot’ postcodes pay about an extra 20%--or £30 per annum—for home insurance. Check out the next section of this article forways to improve home security – not only will you rest easier at night, you may also qualify for a discount from your home insurance company. If you are looking for a new policy you can compare providers at comparethemarket.com/home-insurance.

10 Simple Checks to Increase the Security of Your Home or Flat

Coming home to find a window broken and your home burgled is utterly terrifying—anyone to whom it has happened will confirm as much. Even more terrifying are what the Americans love to call ‘home invasions,’ a burglary that occurs when the homeowners are at home.

When asked directly, most people will tell you that home security is very high on their list of personal priorities.  However, if you ask the same people what specific steps they take to keep their home secure, you may be surprised to discover that many of them neglect one or more of the following simple actions that can greatly increase the security of your home.

1. Use approved locks on all doors and windows. 

Check with your home insurance company, which should have a list of locks it recommends for use in homes and flats for the best security.Use only mortice locks on doors—no other type of door lock comes close to the protection of a mortice lock. If your locking mechanism could be accessed by a burglar breaking a pane of glass in the door or window, then you should either burglar-proof the glass or install the type of lock that requires a key to lock and unlock from the inside as well as the outside.

2. Fit a burglar alarm system. 

To find a reputable company, check the directory of companies registered with the National Security Inspectorate. These alarms are usually more expensive than DIY installation alarms, but you may find you get a reduction on your home insurance premiums. What is the best type of alarm? The loudest, shrillest one. If you can, hide all the wires of your system if it is not wireless, to discourage burglars from looking for wires to cut.

3. Join a neighbourhood watch scheme. 

Residents in towns throughout the United Kingdom partner with the local constabulary to create and maintain Neighbourhood Watch organizations. As many as 10 million UK residents identify themselves as members of a local neighbourhood watch scheme. For information on your local NHW, check this website or ask at your nearest police station.

4.  Never leave the house.

Just kidding, but make it look as if you never leave the house. You can purchase inexpensive timers to turn lights and televisions or radios on and off when you are away, even for a day or evening.  Setting up a ‘someone’s at home’ façade is an especially good idea if no one is regularly at home on weekday afternoons, which is a popular working time for burglars.

5.  Light up the night.

Install motion sensor lights at all entrances and along sides of the house without an entrance. Be considerate of neighbours and check that the lights are not shining right in to someone else’s home. Check that lights are working properly a couple of times each year.

6.  Get a real or fake dog. 

Barking dogs—indeed loud noises of any kind—are a burglar’s worst enemy. Even a small but barky dog can be an excellent burglar deterrent. If a dog does not fit in to your life, shop around for motion alarms that emit loud barking sounds instead of a traditional alarm sound. You may also consider posting ‘Beware of Dog’ signs whether or not a dog is actually on the premises.

7.  Tend your garden.

Survey the outside of your home or flat and eliminate any likely hiding places. One fun way to do this is to play a game of hide and seek with your kids or a neighbour’s children. Trim any trees or shrubs that offer hiding places. If a child can hide there, so could a would-be burglar. It is especially important to keep trees, shrubs, ornamental grasses or anything else from obstructing a view from the street to your front door. A Neighbourhood Watch scheme would not give you much benefit if none of your neighbours can see your front door to keep a friendly eye on it.

8. Secure the windows. 

In addition to standard window locks, consider a side lock that prevents the window from being opened more than a couple of inches. If your home or flat has a sliding glass patio door, use a piece of pipe or wood to secure the door by placing the piece of pipe into the middle of the bottom track.

9.  Frost or cover your garage windows. 

If a burglar can not tell whether you are home, your house becomes a less appealing target than the house down the road with a clearly empty garage. If you park on the street, try to vary the location of where you park rather than always parking directly in front of your home or flat.

10. Buy the numbers.

Replace your house number if the existing ones are small, dark, or otherwise difficult to see from the street. You want police and other emergency vehicles to have an easy time of finding your house if it becomes necessary.

After performing these checks, you will rest assured that you have done much to enhance your family’s security. Also, make sure to let your home insurance company know of the enhanced security at your house or flat—you may be rewarded with discounted premiums!

Home Security During Vacations

Other than installing a top-of-the-line home security system complete with wireless cameras that allow you to check on your home from your beach chair, there are simpler steps you can take to keep your home safe while you are away for an extended period of time.

·         Use caution when announcing your travel plans to the great, wide open internet, and check that your children do the same.
·         Put a stop on your mail and newspaper delivery, or ask a very trusted friend to make a daily pick-up. Even if you do hold your mail and newspaper, ask a friend to check every other day for any flyers or door hangers.
·         Configure the timers for your lights and timers to replicate your utility usage during evenings and weekends. Just leaving one little light burning is rarely sufficient to deter a burglar anymore. Purchase timers so that lights and televisions go on and off in different rooms at different hours of the day and evening.
·         Ask a neighbour to put out your rubbish bin and put it back in place after pick-up day.
·         If you will be gone for an extended period, hire a landscaping service to keep your garden looking tidy.
·         Consider a trusted house sitter or pet sitter.

Living through the experience of one break-in is enough for anyone to know they never want to go through the experience again. By taking some extra security precautions, hopefully you can prevent a home burglary from ever happening in the first place.

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