Domestic burglaries have increased 21% in the space of a year according to police data compiled by the Office for National Statistics. Government police cuts certainly haven’t helped; so now, while we wait in hope for a change of leader and ruling party, the onus is on the homeowner to make their castles safer. A sad state of affairs indeed, but one helped by a few simple steps. So, here is the IDEAL guide to keeping your home secure.

SAFER SURFING

A possible reason for the recent growth in burglaries is the use of social media by criminals when singling out properties to target. Frequent mistakes made by social users include: tweeting photos from inside the home, sending Facebook updates about holiday plans from the airport, posting pictures of expensive jewellery or electrical equipment and accepting friend requests from people who they don’t genuinely know. All of these seemingly innocuous actions can add up to the mining of enough information to commit a well-timed burglary or identity theft, so be smart and savvy when sharing on social media.

CHECKING ACCESS

When you first move in, it’s essential that you change the locks to your house or flat. You wouldn’t share passwords with strangers for example, so why risk sharing keys? Although you may have been handed a single set of keys by the estate agent, it’s impossible to know how many times the keys have been replicated. So, when moving in somewhere new, early on your to-do list should be hiring a professional locksmith to switch the locks on all access points to your home; these will include front and back doors, windows, the garden gate, garage door and even the shed if you have one.

MAKE IT HARD FOR THIEVES TO HIDE

A garden full of elaborate shrubbery may look divine, but it’s also inviting for thieves to hide among and wait for their moment to strike. Keep bushes trim, and even consider planting thorny foliage next to your windows to make them harder to mount. Motion sensor lighting around your home is also a fantastic way to deter thieves, as it will trigger a spotlight to shine every time someone walks past.

INSTALL C.C.T.V

Co op Insurance surveyed 12 former burglars (a most trustworthy, rigorous investigation) to find out more about how would be thieves operate. The biggest deterrent, it was revealed, would be visible CCTV on the premises, along with a barking dog and the sound of a T.V or radio. Smart technology allows CCTV footage to be viewed on your smartphone, which is handy for homeowners who want to check in on their property, but a massive disincentive to burglars.

SET TIMERS ON LIGHTS, RADIO AND T.V

Equally, timers can be set when you’re away for an extended period to create the illusion of occupation inside the house. Have your lights timed to turn on occasionally; ditto the radio and television, and your house will look to be a hub of life and energy.

LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR

It may seem terrifically old school, quaint even, but enlisting the help of a neighbour is still a good idea. Ask them to call round to the house when you’re out, to keep an eye on things, giving you peace of mind and perhaps more importantly, helping a sense of community and fighting off isolation in a society sometimes mistrusting and fragmented. Perfect!