Keeping your home safe
Most burglaries are committed by opportunist thieves who will search a neighbourhood for homes that look empty or dark, with access to back gardens. They also look out for windows that have been left open and unlocked doors.
By following a few simple steps, you can reduce the chances of becoming a victim of burglary.
- Lock all doors and remove the keys before leaving the house. This limits the amount of escape routes available to burglars.
- Keep front doors locked even when you are at home and especially if you are in the back garden.
- Close all windows fully before you leave the house, lock downstairs windows and remove the keys.
- Use window limiters to allow air in instead of keeping windows fully open, even when you’re at home.
- Install window locks on upstairs windows that can be easily accessed by a flat roof.
- Lock back gates using a sturdy lock such as a closed shackle padlock to no less than CEN 3-4 security grade or 5 lever lock.
- For more information on types of locks and locksmiths visit the Master Locksmiths Association website.
- Leave low-energy lights on timers around the house and keep a radio on to make it seem as though someone is home.
- ‘Dusk-to-dawn’ sensored security lighting is a cheap, low cost way of making sure the front of your home or shed/outbuilding is well-lit.
- Burglars often prefer to work in the dark to avoid detection. Stop burglars from hiding in your driveway and paths by installing an ambient security light that will not disturb neighbours.
- Visible burglar alarms can make burglars think twice; get specialist advice and consult your insurance company.
- Hedging and shrubs to the front of your property should be pruned to no higher than 1m and trim trees up from the ground to 2m. This will allow a clear line of sight across your property and will stop the garden being used as a hiding place.
- Keep your valuables, jewellery, cash, passport and deeds to your property in a safe.
- Never leave spare keys in an open place. Hide away to prevent them being stolen.
- Keep dustbins and wheelie-bins away from fencing/gates as these can be used by thieves to climb into windows or used to escape.
- Make sure valuables are property marked. Take photographs and keep a note of any serial numbers.
- Don’t leave equipment and tools lying around that can be used by burglars to break into your home, such as hammers, shovels or gardening tools. Keep ladders locked away and out of sight.
What is property fraud?
Property is usually the most valuable asset people own. It can be sold and mortgaged to raise money and can therefore be an attractive target for fraudsters. The type of frauds we usually see are where fraudsters first steal your identity and then sell or mortgage your property by pretending to be you. If it isn’t discovered promptly, you as the true property owner might find your property has been transferred or sold without your knowledge. Fixing the mess and getting any mortgage taken off your register can be distressing, time-consuming and costly.
How common is it?
Thankfully this type of property fraud is quite rare, but if you are the unlucky victim, it can have devastating effects. That is why prevention is much better than cure.
What can people do to protect themselves?
There are a few options:
- Ensure your property is registered. If you become an innocent victim of fraud and suffer a financial loss as a consequence, you may be compensated. If your property isn’t registered then no compensation is payable. Find out about registering land
- Once registered, make sure your contact details are up-to-date so you can be reached easily. You can have up to three addresses on the register including an email address or an address abroad. If your details are not up to date, you may not receive Land Registry's letter or email if they try to contact you
- Sign up for Land Registry’s award-winning free Property Alert service that helps owners to guard against property fraud. They will send you an email alert when there is certain activity on the monitored property e.g. if someone tries to take out a mortgage on it. If you receive an alert, you can judge whether the activity is suspicious and seek further advice - gov.uk/property-alert
- Owners who feel their property might be at risk can have a restriction entered on their property. A restriction is intended to stop activity on your property, such as a transfer or a mortgage, unless a conveyancer or solicitor confirms the application was made by you. There is no fee for home owners to register this restriction as long as they do not live in the property they wish to protect. Request a restriction
Who is most at risk from property fraud?
You’re more at risk if your property:
- is rented out
- is empty, such as if the owner is abroad or in a care home
- is mortgage-free
- isn’t registered with Land Registry
If you think you may be the victim of property fraud, you should:
- Contact the property fraud line on 0300 006 7030 (Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm) or email [email protected]
- Contact a legal professional such as a solicitor or Citizens Advice and Action Fraud (actionfraud.police.uk)
For more information: www.gov.uk/propertyfraud
Fuel Oil Theft
Despite the cost of heating oil coming down in price it is still a popular target for thieves. Oil tanks are usually hidden from view, which is perfect for thieves.
By following a few simple steps, you can reduce the chance of becoming a victim of fuel oil theft:
- When installing a new tank, place it in a well-lit area but if the tank is in a secluded spot then don’t light the area, as this will help the thief.
- Trellis, fencing and planting can be used to hide your tank, however make sure you leave a gap around the tank to avoid a fire risk. Check with your oil provider for details.
- Consider using a padlock to lock the cap. However be aware that you could risk having your tank pierced to get to your fuel, causing permanent damage and contamination from leaking oil. In additional to locks the installation of a tank alarm should be considered. These are triggered by movement or a sudden drop in level and may come with a high pitched siren and auto dialling facility to your smart phone.
- You could enclose your tank in a building however it is important to provide good ventilation; advice should be sought from a professional.
- Make sure your perimeter fence is in good condition and is not easy to climb. Lock and secure gates.
- Check your oil gauges regularly. This will show any thefts and help investigations by narrowing crime times down.
Sheds and Outbuildings
Sheds and outbuildings are vulnerable because of what they contain and where they are.
By following a few simple steps, you can reduce the chance of your shed or outbuilding being broken into:
- Secure the door using either mortise locks to BS 3261 standard or closed shackle padlocks to no less than CEN 3-4 security grade and hasps approved by Sold Secure. Hinges are also a weak point so use coach bolts or one-way security screws.
- Consider a ‘shed bar’, this and other approved security products can be found at www.soldsecure.com or www.securedbydesign.com.
- Windows can be an easy entry point so block them or fix a steel mesh to the inside.
- Keep high value items in a secure locked garage or other brick building.
- Cycle locks can be used to secure cycles and other heavy items such as ladders and lawnmowers to a strong anchor point or to each other.
- If you own a lot of power tools invest in a metal locker and secure with a closed shackle padlock to no less than CEN 4-5 security grade.
- Make a property list detailing the make, model, serial number, value and description of items and take photographs to aid identification.
- Mark items by etching or painting your house number and postcode. This will make them less attractive to steal and more difficult to sell on.
- Consider fitting a shed alarm to deter thieves.
Register your property at www.immobilise.com. This is a free web-based property registration service approved by the police.
The neighbourhood watch scheme is about getting people together with their neighbours to combat local crime.
Suffolk Neighbourhood Watch scheme helps to make our neighbourhoods more secure and our communities feel safer.
The main objectives of Neighbourhood Watch are to:
- prevent and reduce crime in our neighbourhoods
- provide reassurance to people in our communities
- provide appropriate and up-to-date crime reduction advice
- encourage members of our communities to be alert and watchful in looking after themselves and others
- act as a channel of communication by passing on information from the police to the community and from the community to the police to help prevent crime.
The Suffolk Neighbourhood Watch Association (SNWA) can give you details on how to join an existing scheme or help set up a new one if there isn't one in your area.
French windows / Patio doors
- Fit hinge bolts to outward opening doors when outside facing hinges are exposed.
- Fit mortise security bolts to the top and bottom of wooden French doors.
- Fit patio door locks to the top and bottom of sliding patio doors to prevent lifting and sliding.
- When adding security to doors and windows check with the manufacturer as this may affect your warranty. Always use accredited and reliable trades to complete the work.
- Make sure you choose a door that is fit for purpose and select a design that has been tested to PAS 24:2012.
- If you don’t have a multi-point lock system, consider fitting an additional 5 lever mortise deadlock to BS 3621 standard for additional security.
- Fit mortise security bolts to the top and bottom of back or side entrance doors.
- Fit a door viewer and security chain/bar to limit access by unwanted callers.
- Choose attack resistant laminated glass for doors and windows and panels.