Modern home security tips
Easter is round the corner already. I'll be honest, it's a time of mixed emotions for locksmiths. On the one hand there's the chocolate eggs, the odd day off work (if we're lucky), and perhaps a Bond film on the television. On the other hand, our profession took a bit of a kicking with the whole tomb aspect of the tale. I tell you what, if that stone had had a proper lock fitted, I wouldn't have fancied Jesus' chances of escaping from the tomb after his death, Son of God or not. Clearly the security arrangements of 2,000 years ago left a lot to be desired.
Advice on how to keep your home safe
Anyway, as a way to make amends for this tomb security oversight of my ancestors, I thought I'd pen a blog about more modern home security and how you can help keep your home safe. After all, no-one wants to be the one returning home to find the door ajar and their house emptied of all contents - it might not have the same worldwide significance as when the women returned to find the stone of the tomb rolled away, but in terms of our own lives, it can be a devastating experience, both financially and emotionally, lasting long in the memory.
From personal experience, I know the aftermath of a break-in can be a distressing time, so would always encourage people to take preventative measures before we ever get to that stage - a few steps now can save a great deal of heartache.
We'll tackle this on three fronts this time - first I'll go over steps you can take to stop a burglar choosing your house as a target. Secondly I'll look at how you can help repel any break in that may occur. And thirdly I'll briefly go over what you can do to minimise the impact of any burglary should someone illicitly gain entry to your house.
How to prevent any potential burglary attempt
Firstly, the best option - how to prevent any potential burglary attempt in the first place. This is the ideal outcome - no damage, no loss of property, no insurance claims and no stress. We really want to make our house so unappealing to burglars that that they don't even consider an attempted break-in and instead move on to an easier target.
Think about what your house and its surroundings are advertising. Don't leave expensive items on obvious display on windowsills or the like. Have you just bought a brand spanking new television or music system? Be aware when putting out packaging to be collected for recycling. Try to disguise any boxes, perhaps turning them inside out, hiding any clues to the original contents. Anything that prevents catching a burglar's attention to rich pickings on offer is to be recommended.
Expensive items are not the only thing you should be careful about advertising. Be wary of broadcasting the fact that you're away from your house for any significant period of time. Shouting about your upcoming dream holiday on social media is tempting but it can't half attract the attention of local thieves, letting them know their break-in attempts are likely to go undisturbed. Invest in electric timers to turn on lights or radios to make it look as if your house is still occupied. A neighbour's car on your drive and a friend coming round to pick up your post and open/close your blinds are also steps that can raise doubts in the head of a burglar scouting the area.
Get a qualified locksmith to check your locks
Moving onto our second scenario where, despite our best efforts, a burglar is still about to attempt a break-in at your property. Here's where our security devices come into their own. Check your locks or, even better, ask a qualified locksmith to come round to inspect them. Locks are crucial to keeping your property safe and should be fitted to all external doors, gates and windows.
Check your home insurance requirements to get the very basic security measures you're expected to have fitted. However, we should always go well beyond these measures. At a minimum, all external locks should be of the anti-snap variety. Lock snapping is still prevalent among the criminal fraternity, allowing access in under ten seconds - check out the many YouTube videos devoted to this for a sobering wake-up call.
Investing in more secure locks is one of the best investments you can make and will pay you back many times over should they repel a burglary attempt. It should also go without saying that locks should be...well, locked. Sounds obvious, but so many times there are burglaries where no actual break-ins are required and the burglar simply walks in to the property through an unlocked door. Make it a habit to lock external doors, and keep an eye on where you keep your house keys. Leaving them where they can easily be nabbed is asking for trouble.
Lessening the impact of any break-in
The third prong to our approach concerns lessening the impact of any break-in. Suppose someone has gained access to your house - a horrifying thought, of course, but how can we minimise the loss that we will suffer. The important thing to note is that burglars do not want to hang about in your property - they want to be in and out in a flash. Few burglars will spend long searching the property for fear of attracting attention. With this in mind, make it as hard as possible for them to pull off a lucrative outcome. Hide away your car keys (these are often the primary target of a house break in), and keep any cash, wallets, or handbags well hidden away out of sight. Yes, it's convenient for us to keep these items on the hall table by the front door, but a burglar can grab this in a matter of seconds and be away without us even noticing.
I would always advise investing in a small house safe for your high value items - jewellery, money and the like. Safes are not just for the rich and famous - they can be picked up for a reasonable price and are a great investment to keep sentimental or valuable items away from the clutches of any intruders. Make sure the safe is securely attached to a wall or floor though. Otherwise you're just handily boxing up your valuable items to be carried away!
Stephen Fretwell, Barnsley locksmith
Right, well I hope I've made amends for my profession's misjudgement back those couple of millenniums ago. Wishing you all a very happy Easter, however you spend it.
For advice on anything lock-related, or to enquire about repairs or replacements, call 01226 399067 and ask for Stephen at SF Locksmiths in Barnsley.